In the middle of Edinburgh there is a dormant volcano that answers to the name Arthur’s Seat. There’s a road that takes the not so keen walker around and halfway up said lump of rock.
On any given weekend hundreds of city dwellers can be found rambling, cycling, power-walking, jogging, or running around this road.
Throughout my wandering about the place career, I’ve always been impressed by the friendliness of my fellow amblers. People who climb up the most inhospitable of places to get away from it all appear to be all too keen to meet a friendly gaze with a smile, some notional comment about the weather or about the terrain in general.
Pan back to Arthur’s Seat. Imagine a man carrying a full back pack sporting a bright blue t-shirt emblazoned with the ‘Mind’ logo, a pink face and a black kilt trying to achieve escape velocity from Edinburgh in time for his Great Adventure. This same man, me, tried to achieve eye-contact with the good people of Edinburgh on his way round.
Despite my efforts I managed some social interaction with 1 – count him – 1 person.
I had hoped, somewhat egocentrically it turns out, that some folk may have noticed the unusual sight of the full pack – shirt – mind logo – kilt combo and asked me what in the name of cracky I was up to.
The lovely man – 70 years old if he was a day – leaning on a stick – with laughter lines around his eyes – stopped me and asked, “What’s going on here then?”
My heart grew in my chest as I inhaled in preparation for a long monologue about Walking a Mile in my Shoes.
Before I could start, however, I became aware he was looking over my shoulder. Behind me there was the hustle and bustle of paramedics and others as they tended to some poor individual who’d had a bit of a stumble on the hill.
We chatted extensively about how beautiful but chilly it was – how funny it was that folk approached this mini-mountain so ill-prepared and that we hoped that the wounded person would end up without any permanent injury.
What did I learn? I learned that as I grumbled my way along thinking “Wouldn’t it be good if these city dwellers could look outside of themselves and think about others,” I had become guilty of the exact same crime I’d judged them for. I looked at all these people tied up in their individual endeavours and had become a little tied up with my own.
The lesson? Go outside…then look outside.
I can’t finish this particular bloglet without doffing my cap to the Russian family who leapt out of their car in front of me. Mum and dad grabbed their cigarettes so they could fully enjoy the fresh air and the kids took control of the in-car entertainment system, blasting out “I will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, so they could enjoy the tranquility of this secluded spot.
I laughed out loud – not just at the comedy of the situation – but at myself for being such a judgmental old fart.
Walk a Mile in some other folk’s shoes.