No more “used to”

We just got back from a month of traveling around Europe. It was a much needed break and really gave me a chance to stop the momentum of life. During the trip we found ourselves in areas like Chamonix (France), the Austrian Alps, Tuscany (Italy) and the Dolomites (Italy). The scenery was spectacular. Everywhere we looked there were craggy mountains, glacial rivers and endless forests that you could just disappear in. I spent a lot of time thinking about all the different activities I could do in areas like this. I also spent a lot of time reminiscing about the “old days” when I used to do these sorts of activities.

Mountains surrounding Chamonix and Mont Blanc

Mountains surrounding Chamonix and Mont Blanc


We have been back in Australia for a few days and I am still suffering serious jet lag (waking up at 2am in the morning). One positive thing that I have found with this jet lag is that you get to spend a lot of time lying bed, in the dark, contemplating things.

Last night, during one of these early morning thinking sessions, I started thinking about all these outdoor activities I used to do and started really missing them.

In the early to mid 90’s I used to be very active in various outdoor pursuits. I was doing a lot of ballooning, climbing, bush walking, mountain biking and whitewater kayaking. Every weekend I was somewhere doing something. I was not in my element unless I had a 4wd full of gear and was driving off to some obscure location to do some obscure activity.I even dropped out of my first uni degree,  because I was more spending more time with the uni’s “Outdoor Pursuits” club than I was in lectures, and ended up working in an outdoor gear shop for 18 months .

Apart from ballooning and the odd “fitness” kayaking session on one of Sydney’s waterways, it has been more than 15 years since I have actively been involved in the outdoors. Even ballooning is something I just don’t do enough of.

There is definitely a point in your life where things like family, work, mortgages etc. start occupying your mind and easily become an excuse to not do (or even think about) other activities.Weekends come and go with no plans and end up with a not having achieved much (and normally involve spending lots of money at the mall). I miss that Sunday night feeling where you are completely knackered and you collapse on the couch being able to barely move your aching limbs.

One of the big things I realized last night was that I have been saying “I used to…” a lot in the last few years. For example, just recently we had a new guy start at work who is a very keen rock climber. Through various conversations about climbing, I have been saying things like “I used to climb at Mt. Buffalo” or “I used to like climbing granite”. It is the same with kayaking when I talk about the rivers “I used to” paddle on. Basically saying “I used to” is me gripping onto the past and I could see myself being old and fat in 40 years still talking about what I did in the 90’s.

Having had a month away from work, and barely even thinking about work, it has given me a chance to think about these activities I used to do and I have decided that I am going to start doing them again.

So what am I going to do?

Firstly, I should really point out that this is not me having a mid-life crisis (I am saving that for later in life). This is me just getting off my butt and using all the toys that are gathering dust in garage. I can easily see why people have mid-life crisis because there is a point when people suddenly realize they are in a rut and need a major change to get out of it. I don’t need this major change, I just need to start doing things again.

So, initially I am just going to make sure I doing something interesting every weekend. Whether it is kayaking somewhere new, going for an interesting bike ride on a new trail, going rock climbing again etc. Basically I need to do something that will allow me to spend the proceeding week planning the activity and the following week thinking about it. Even if it is for just a couple of hours, it just needs to be something.

Even with my ballooning, which as mentioned before I am still doing, I need to spice it up a bit more. For the last 10 years my ballooning has mostly been flying in the same area around our farm in Binalong NSW and has become pretty mundane. It is time to start flying in new areas and trying more challenging flights.

My kayaking is the same. I am blessed to live about 15 minutes drive from some really scenic parts of Pittwater (just north of Sydney). However for the last couple of years I have been paddling the same sections of water and have been taking my surrounds for granted. By even driving an extra 15 minutes down the road I will be able to explore new areas and discover new things.

I am going to use this blog as both a record of my activities and also as a way to encourage me to seek new things to write about. Who knows, it might only last for a couple of weeks, but hopefully I will read this in 5 years time and be glad that I finally did something to get off my butt. Lets see how it goes.

No more “used to”.

Mountains surrounding Chamonix and Mont Blanc

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