Get Lost Walk

Washed Up on a Beach

I decide to walk the Te Araroa Trail.

Not only had Rose and I remained in one of the least affordable cities in the world but we had done it on a shoestring. My Australian clinical practice had been shuttered for three months.

Sacrificing a business and income for a new vision is a gamble but only if the idea takes off. Beneath the business frustrations and worry, inner restlessness surged, ignited by a Royal lunch in London and a thirty day wilderness walk with my stepson.

A spark of professional curiosity still glowed. Could it be that walking for a prolonged spell in nature shapes the mind as well as the body? Had I stumbled on the ultimate rehab cure? The answer, I theorized, was a resounding, “Yes!”

But I also sniffed failure. What had worked for Tino, had not worked for me. The thought of failing bugged me. I had promised Rose that my idea of connecting stressed, depressed and anxious people with nature would help humanity and provide us with an income. We had laid the groundwork but our vision had not yet taken off. I blamed myself.

Stress made me moody, grumpy and testy with family and friends. Rose and I watched our savings dwindle, tightened our belts and slid towards debt. We bickered, fought, made up, argued again. I slept badly and had to drive myself out of bed in the morning for a run. I was becoming the therapist who needs a therapist.

One Saturday afternoon, I escaped the pressure cooker of the house, bought a bottle of wine and sat down on a beach to seek clarity, oblivion or both. Sometimes you need a little something to fill the gap between perception and reality.

“You’re a business man washed up on the beach in a foreign land,” I thought helpfully.

I took a slug of Shiraz and grimaced. “You’re going off the rails,” I thought.

I gazed morosely up at the fluffy white clouds floating overhead in the early summer breeze and took another swig. The cool wine warmed my belly. “You need to get it together,” I thought, stating the blindingly obvious.

Those words had floated through my mind many times eight years before. Then, I had been in the grip of PTSD (it stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I had suffered nightmares by night and a suffocating sense of impending doom by day.

I had toughed it out for over a year before a naturopath cured the nightmares and the worst of the anxiety in a single session. At the time, I thought she had cured me.

Now, it worried me that perhaps the treatment had not been deep enough or that you could never uproot the seeds of PTSD. I needed to do something drastic but what?

I gazed down the glistening sands where older men walked very small dogs. Some of the pooches sported pink collars studded with crystals. It seemed that the more “bling” a dog wore, the more stooped, grumpy and hopeless the old chap on the other end of the leash looked.

I imagined that each of those unfortunate (and presumably once successful) retired men still had the refrain, “Get lost!” reverberating through his neural synapses. I could almost hear the conversation.

She: “What are you doing today, dear?”

He (grumpy): “Dunno.”

She: (lips pursed and arms folded): “Well, I’ve got the girls coming round for coffee. Why don’t you take Lulu out for a walk on the beach? Do take your time, dear. You know the doctor said exercise is good for your heart.”

What is the spouse really saying? “Get lost, dear.”

I did not want to be the man on the end of a leash. A dripping mountain wood and a chance meeting with a tramper from Holland flashed across my mind.

“Damn it, I know! I’ll walk the Te Araroa!” I exclaimed and took another swig of wine. “That’ll show them!”

By Richard Margesson

Director of Free The Tree- a biosecurity and biodiversity restoration service on Waiheke Island in New Zealand's Hauraki Gulf.

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