Recently I’ve been walking some marked trails around London (as described in my last post), including some sections of the Capital Ring. You can download maps and directions for each section of the CR from Walk London, but to be honest once you have found your way from the relevant station to the CR route, you don’t really need to refer to anything because the Capital Ring is so well signposted. Whichever direction you walk the route, there are plentiful waymarks bearing the CR symbol (Big Ben, surrounded by a circlet of arrows) and indicating the direction you need to walk. The waymarks are not just at turns; there are also “keep going” markers for straight stretches, which usually appear just at the very moment you start to think that you have been walking for a rather long time since the last route marker and have maybe gone wrong somehow.
Something I have noticed about myself, however, is that I find it very difficult to trust in those way markers. I have plenty of evidence that they will be there when I need them, and indeed the only time I have gone off course is when I allowed myself to be distracted by something and didn’t see the perfectly placed marker (because I was looking at a rabbit or some cygnets or something), and I’ve quickly noticed my mistake. Yet once a certain amount of time elapses since the last marker, I start to get twitchy. “It’ll be fine, just walk on a little further,” I tell myself. “If, after five more minutes, you haven’t seen a marker then you can retrace your steps, but you know you will see one.” Despite this sensible self-talk, I feel my hand creep towards my iPhone, craving the reassurance of the route in PDF or an overview of where I am on Google Maps.
I was reflecting today that this in fact typical behaviour for me. I don’t deal well with uncertainty and I try to make things conform to a safe pattern (although I’m then quite likely to complain that I am bored!). Right now I am in a place in my life where I don’t know what I will be doing for work in the near future. It is likely that I will have recovered enough from my recent poor mental health to return to the workplace next month, but I don’t have a definite return date. Nor do I know whether I will return to the temporary managerial post I’ve been holding; whether I will return to being a frontline practitioner; whether I will be able to exercise any choice over those options; whether I will be succesful in any of the job applications I have submitted; whether I will have to or should choose to accept a lower rate of pay; whether, if I were offered a new position, I am strong enough to accept a new job hand in my notice to an organisation for whom I have worked for the past eight years and head out into the unknown (and a commute to Zone 1!).
I have to believe that there is some sort of process at work, that information about my options will be forthcoming in the next couple of weeks and that, more importantly, I will gain some clarity about what is the right thing for me to do. I am very ambivalent about the possibilities outlined above, but I do believe there is an answer somewhere about what I want and what I need. The problem is waiting in a spirit of trust for this to emerge, without making any hasty decisions or closing and doors prematurely. I hope I have the strength to do that.