Diversion Diary | In The Zone

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Hannah’s partner, BK, lives in the USA, and lockdown has kept them apart. Each week in the Diversion Diary she has brought us some lonesome ramblings, plus a selection of internet finds. But this week, they’re reunited.

Sorry this is a bit late, but I’ve been a bit busy being happy. Not that I was miserable before, but I’ve been being actively, in the moment, right here right now, happy.

All the ‘I’m looking forward to when…’ stuff I usually have in conversations with BK is out the way. Instead, we are. Present tense.

It’s wonderful, although getting together was, as usual, not without its stresses. One time I went to see him, I screwed up my visa and it only arrived with barely 10 minutes to spare before the plane would have left without me. Last time he came to see me he broke his arm and had to delay his trip, and then I mis-timed the airport pick up and left him standing in the cold without a phone signal for the best part of an hour. This time there is a global pandemic and at the last minute one of his flights was cancelled, and then one part of his flight was delayed – he only made boarding for the flight across the Atlantic with 4 minutes to spare. These last minute stresses meant that, riding a wave of anxiety and sleep deprivation, I found myself having to drive not just down the road to Manchester to get him, but all the way down the country to Heathrow.

The contrast between the start of the week and now could barely be greater. I have done a lot of sleeping (You lot at the back, stop giggling). For the past few months I’ve been aware of spikes in stress, but not really conscious of the background hum of cortisol and adrenaline. The planning of any outing – do I really need to go out, do I have a mask, do I have hand gel, where will it be quiet, is that person coughing?. The worrying about stats here and abroad. The shifting travel restrictions, the wondering when, if we’ll get to see each other. It’s all added up to the present being a place of anxiety, and the future being something distanced from me by not just time, but a bunch of factors out of my control.

Now, everything I want is in one country. The future I’m looking forward to is in a couple of weeks, when my kids can join me for a summer holiday (we’re off to visit their grandparents, which means BK is going to meet my parents for the first time…). There’s a future about six weeks from now where he gets on a plane and goes back to the USA, but I’m not really thinking about that now, other than to hope that maybe he’ll get stuck here for a bit if there’s another flight cancellation. So I find myself here, in the now, basking in all that is present.

Being in the moment, mindfulness, intentionality – it’s the stuff that therapists tell us we need to be to be happy. It’s the way to set our fears aside and focus on the good things, or the things we can change – rather than catastrophising about the future or wallowing in worries. Easier said than done though. I recall a therapist once trying to get me to quieten my thoughts, empty my mind, and be present in the moment in order to undergo a phobia treatment. In the end, after some music I said made me feel like I was trapped in a lift, and another incident when I laughed out loud as she told me to close my eyes and follow my spirit guide, she pretty much gave up. Being in the now is hard.

Mountain biking is one of the few times I usually find easy to be in the now, and I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that many others experience the same thing. Lindsey Richter coaches that when you’re riding you should ‘Think only thoughts that serve you’. You can’t be thinking about much beyond the few metres of trail in front of you if you’re riding something technical – tune out and you’ll soon find yourself on the ground. ‘Don’t hit that rock’ is invariably a poor train of thought. I suspect that many of us find that mountain biking induces the effect of being in the moment, the exclusion of unwanted thoughts, a respite from processing and planning anything more than a few seconds ahead.

Yes, we also ride to seek out the adrenaline rush, and at times we scare ourselves a little more than we might like. It’s a combination of the rush and the focus that are so intoxicating. But while it’s a heady mix for mountain biking, I’d be happy to have my love life be a little less dramatic. I’m going to enjoy the next six weeks with BK, spend as many minutes in the moment as I can, and worry about what’s on the other side of this trip when we get there.

This week’s theme then is focus, the moment, an instant, immersion in now.

Andy Goldsworthy

You might well be aware of Andy Goldsworthy’s work already. But whether you are or aren’t, you can marvel at his construction techniques as well as what he produces. His work covers themes of time and place, and he must surely be completely that moment as he’s building them. He studied in Bradford and Preston – pretty local to ST Towers – and he has work on display in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which is top of the list of local sights I want to take BK to. If you’ve not been, you should definitely make time to go – and as most of it is outdoors, it’s the perfect place to get your fix of art in COVID-19 times.

The Last Dance

I’m sure I’ve recommended this before, but it’s so good it’s worth repeating. It’s about basketball, but it’s also not about basketball. It’s about what it takes to bring a team of strong individuals together to perform their best for an hour, often with crucial plays that last just a few seconds. How do you get your team to lay it all on the line, right on the second that it matters?

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Man On Wire

Don’t look left, or right. The margin for error is pretty much nil, so you’d best be paying attention.

Catherine Destivelle

Most of the videos of Catherine Destivelle come with French language commentary, so search the web if you want something in English. But this is just outside Moab, so you get this one for the red rocks and the tenuous mountain bike connection.

Heather Dorniden

Everything can change in a moment, or not. Maybe it just depends what you do with the moment.

I feel very very lucky indeed. Lucky to have met BK, lucky to have got this far, and lucky that all the things that could have gone wrong, didn’t. Perhaps I should look on the bright side a little more often. So, that’s it – no more Diversion Diary, though since many of you seem to like this format, I’ll endeavour to conjure up another internet finds with vaguest of bike themes type thing soon. For now, BK has my full and undivided attention. Plus, he’s currently painting my house, and I think he’s missed a bit.

Catch up with the love under lockdown Diversion Diary:

Comments (6)

    Hearty congrats and the very best to the pair of you.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this series of articles, something genuine and honest in unsettling times.


    Be in the now and get the most out of the next six weeks – you both deserve it. A hearty hello to BK and note that the curiously non gnar, non rad ride across the Humber Bridge still awaits!!!

    Nothing worth having ever came easy, but at last, all is right with the world. At least a bit of it, anyway. I’m chuffed you finally got together and hope that the next six weeks go very slowly for the both of you, in the nicest possible way.
    As @Pete said, this has been a great series that’s given us a bit of everything including much food for thought. It also illustrates perfectly adaption in testing times. Thanks, Hannah.

    You do have to feel a bit sorry for BK, though. After waiting for what feels like an eternity, our hero goes through Hell and high water to get to the love of his life. They run towards each other, probably though a sunlit field of long grass (if you’ve never been to Heathrow, that’s exactly what Arrivals looks like), when he spies something that looks like a pot of paint and a brush in her hand. “Right, I’m off to work, you paint the house.” Welcome to England, mate 😉

    Never heard of “catastrophising” before, but think I know exactly what you mean, for me its that feeling or thought that some impossible thing is going happen to really screw up your day. I sometimes have those thoughts when riding alone with only the voice in my head for company, but never ever when I am riding with mates or riding the fast technical stuff when you need to be in “the zone”. The solution, keep busy and the keep the chimp on your shoulder quiet.

    @brakestoomuch There was no running through a field of grass, because I was late again. For some weird reason I had to pay to do a tour of the Terminal 5 car park before unlocking access to the Terminal 2 pick up.

    @Hannah Sounds like the Heathrow Terminal Adventure Game with bonus frustration. At least you made it in the end.

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