I had been feeling glum for no particular reason. I was out of sorts and grumpy and kept getting irrationally mad at cheesy segments on The One Show. I’ve never suffered from seasonal depression before, but this was like a little taster of it.
It had been raining for days, meaning leaving the apartment except for work was pointless, unless I was trying really hard to get a cold. It had been getting dark so early that I only saw daylight for a few hours after work before my living room turned into the land of shadows. And no matter how much I practiced I couldn’t balance in a headstand, and I couldn’t muster the patience to practice.
All these little niggles were building up into a heavy cloud of glumness sitting on my shoulders. I know none of these things are real problems, but sometimes lots of little problems are almost worse, like new shoes giving you lots of tiny blisters instead of a big mother of one.
I got home from work the other day, feeling unexplainably sad again. I ate some soup (leek and potato sprinkled with nutritional yeast, mmm), put my coat back on and made myself go for a walk.
I went up to the university beside my apartment block. I had seen on a map that there was a park beside it, but I had never took the time to go find it. I walked slowly, I wasn’t in a rush and it was the first day in what felt like weeks that it wasn’t raining.
I took deep breaths as I tottered up the main road, filling my lungs with a mix of fumes and lovely fresh air, with every step feeling a bit better.
I found the edge of the park but got sidetracked by a hidden viewing bridge that ran along a river, covered in trees and bushes. The rusty iron fence looked out at the city stretching beyond the pale blue water. I smiled to myself, breathing in the fresh smells of nature, trying to ignore the people in the beer garden beside who might have been worried I was a crazy flasher woman, coming through the bushes to unleash my naked body on them.
The park lay at the bottom of a steep lane way by the side of a university building. I walked cautiously down through the dark, feeling for the first time in a long time that I was on an adventure.
At the bottom of the hill I found myself in a well kept park, brimming with green grass and ancient trees, gently coaxing me to come a little further. A little river ran down the edge, lapping gently at it’s banks and the old university building looked down upon us all like a wise professor, reminding you how unwise you are.
I had to stop myself doing a ‘Busted style’ jump of celebration.
I wandered around the grounds, taking in everything I could, my head darting around in such a wild fashion that it prompted a old man walking his dog to ask “are you lost?” to which I replied “nope!” then proceeded to walk in a big circle a few times before scurrying behind some trees.
As I walked home I listened to a This American Life episode about a girl who was treated really badly by her boyfriend, and it made me think about how lucky I am, and that I have no real reason to be sad, even if I can’t do a headstand yet.
I thought – everything is really great at the moment, I am happy.
It was the first time I had really believed that in months, and all it took was a little adventure, a little time watching a river float aimlessly by and a little walking around in circles.
Because getting lost is sometimes the best way to find yourself again.