I wasn't sure about writing about this experience. It may look lovely, but it was a bit of a disappointment. Then I remembered life isn't a series of perfect events, and we need to talk about the problems as well as the triumphs.
What I actually learned through this experience was: I was knackered.
I'd just plodded through a morning of work, stopping just after a reasonable time for lunch. Then, because I had already decided the day before I was going to do this, I dutifully warmed the soup, made a cup of tea and ambled up the garden. Camera in hand, and sure the soup was going to be cold by the time I got there, it wasn't an inspired start.
The treehouse is an old thing my parents and older brother built when I was about six. The maintenance hasn't been a priority for several years and so the monkey bar access has pretty much all rotted away, hence the extra ladder.
Climbing up the ladder with a tray wasn't actually as hard as you might think, and I was ready to eat. I wasn't superbly hungry but the soup was yummy and still warm, so an ultimate success.
The problem was: I was supposed to having a revelatory loneeating experience and I wasn't really thinking beyond the next move. I wanted to be admiring the view or taking stock of my life but my mind was notably blank.
All I really wanted to do was have a nap, to the extent that I did for a while, up there in my thermal underwear. It wasn't very warm though, and so I came in a napped for about 40 mins on the sofa.
I still find it hard to see this as anything other than a disappointment, but what did I really achieve? I tuned in with my body, listened to what it was telling me and could then act to correct that imbalance and made an effort to get a few early nights. That's quite a success from a single loneeating experience.
Looking closer, what did I expect my loneeating experience to be? Revelatory. A space for thinking. Inspiring. When looked at like that, it's a really high bar for any experience, and certainly not one we can always reach. We don't expect group eating experiences to always be amazing, and yet that was what I was expecting of loneeating. I mean, I'd walked across a garden and climbed a childhood treehouse, I deserved an engaging experience right?
Of course not. It's important we accept that sometimes we're just tired, and things don't go great, they go okay. That's fine and normal. And equally, just because they go 'okay' it also doesn't mean we're not learning something or it's not important. Despite my disappointed feelings on the ground, I definitely managed to glean a few interesting learning points.
What do you think? Should we always aim for inspiring experiences? Or should we accept the more mundane parts of life? Even if things don't feel great at the time, can they still achieve great good? Or is the immediate experience the only relevant thing?
Have you had a loneeating experience you'd like to share? Send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org.