Walking Blues

Jim's 'Wrong in the Head Blues' 2015 (work in progress :-))

"Woke up this morning, da dada da da
Got outta my bed, da dada da da
Realised that something, da dada da da
Was wrong with my head..."

What was wrong was the all too familiar whispering voice. I suspect that the voice was an echo from yesterday evening where things were a little chaotic and did not go to plan; so of course that's my fault, my failing, the voice in my head insinuated.

The trouble with echoes are you cannot be too sure how far away the source is. This morning it was close and sure enough the voice started up again. No longer an echo, but right up up close and personal; snide and wheedling. Normally that would be it, I'd be off following the voice, letting it feed off my emotions until I sat drained, empty or worse.

This morning though went a bit different; maybe a bit of the CBT kicking in with my coffee but next moment it was "Mr Voice you can f*ck right off out of it this morning". Not that my therapist suggests this exact phrase, more a case of trying to park the negative thoughts until you can try and deal with them more rationally and meanwhile go and distract yourself from them.

Given the time, walking the dog seemed to fit the 'distraction' bill, not to mention sorting two jobs for price of one! No disrespect to the dog but sometimes walking her does not distract enough, the voice is a tenacious little bastard and wandering aimlessly can let him in. So the plan is: walk with purpose and take in the world around me.

I love the wildness of the mountains, but the countryside near me has a different beauty; more obvious in the interaction between 'man' and 'man and nature'. The sandstone escarpment from Frodsham, stood firm against the encroaching ice, millennia ago, it's set out mainly with birch - a drift of purple smoke from a distance when the light is right, Jays tripped through with blue and bold white flashes. Reaching the top, the Mersey, it's marshes and flats are set before you in their vastness, even the massive Shell refinery an insignificant pimple.

Away from the escarpment it is the relationship of man to this world that holds my thoughts. Passing the iron age hill fort and into the networked hedge-scape of field beyond, passing forgotten boundaries picked out with mossy sandstone blocks, down paths new and very old: Green lanes, cobbles peaking from mud, deep sided, channelling the flow of humanity long forgotten between town to field; ancient hawthorn borders as barbed wire.

A couple pause to chat, they tell me they walk miles every day. "Come in spring" they enthuse, "the banks are filled with celandine, have you seen the eco-house?" They tell me about a wood fronted house, a little way back, it's replaced a crumbled mill. To my shame, my prejudices informed an expectation of a grumble about eco-nonsense, but were dispelled as they talked of the marvel of hay filled walls and the wonder of energy efficiency. A couple proud of the world and its potential.

Nearing the end of the walk, I pass through neat 70's estates where mini topiary, rockeries and coloured slate hold a rearguard position, fortified with boredom and veiled suspicion. I daydream of some Ballardian upheaval in suburbia before succumbing to corporate Costa and a nice sit down. Unprompted a barista brought out some fresh water for the dog - a nice gesture.

Reflecting with the coffee, I weighed the evidence of the voice and found it lacking, my reality packaged it up and sent it away.

That's CBT in action, package up those unhelpful thoughts and deal with them when your feeling stronger. I know this was a battle won and not the war, The voice only needs to be lucky once. I need to be lucky always.

Walkin' Blue is a song by Sonic Youth, it's rather good:

Hey now, what's the news?

I heard you've been seen walkin' blue

I know, we're all confused it's true

I know you feel the same way