Last week I was in Greece. A few days in Athens, and a few days in Nafplio the ancient capital. I’m reasonably fit. For my age, probably even more so. However most of us know that being able to swim 60 to 70 lengths is not the same as being able to ride 20 miles on a bike or climb the Malvern Hills. In other words, fitness specific to the task.
There is a castle in Nafplio (above) that has 913 steps from street level to the top. Not an Olympic-shattering record, but I managed it in just less than 25 minutes. I’m rather proud of that. And my last day in Athens involved walking for at least 12 miles. I was like the Duracell bunny running at 2 miles an hour.
This morning I went to organise the sale of my motorbike. I had no idea how many buttons it would press. Walking back from the dealer who was selling it triggered several aspects of my recent negative experience. For every one of you dear readers, we all have had such experiences and the memory that triggers them could go back decades. Recency is not the defining criterion.
There is a phrase in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) called “stacking anchors”. What this means is that similar positive or negative experiences reinforce an original moment of bliss or a trauma. For example if you haven’t processed successfully an experience of being betrayed, then any actual or potential experience of betrayal will not only remind you of the original experience but will reinforce it. It will also make you very wary of anything that you perceive led up to the original event.
Equally a memory of a peak experience or bliss will be reinforced by actions similar to the ones that created it. Chances are you will also seek out similar experiences proactively, rather than avoiding then reacting to a negative one as described above.
The walk back from the bike dealership was about 1 mile. Normally this would have no noticeable effect on me. However not only was the walking back unpleasant but I actually found it (physically) a real struggle.
I know these revelations are neither original or particularly revealing. I have shared this with you purely and simply to illustrate how our “state” can be significantly affected by our emotions. No amount of pills, energy drinks (God forbid), exercise and mental gymnastics is likely to override the debilitating effect of negative emotions. And believe me the enhancing effect of positive emotions can be exhilarating. But you know that anyway.
So to conclude, cut yourself some slack if you emotionally “hit the wall” and be eternally grateful when you run up the steps of Palamidi Castle.
And having cut yourself some slack, draw upon that which facilitated your ascent.
We are all richly blessed. Going through probably my fourth midlife crisis. Except this time it is with my eyes open and in a two-seater sports car.
And where would we be without a song?
Namaste, Jack Stewart, Thursday, 28 November 2019.