Rigid Thinking and its Monkey

Yesterday I went to a meeting and I was reminded again of the limiting nature of rigid thinking. Rigid thinking is when you have ideas and beliefs about the world and your place in it that are absolutes; there are no grey areas, it’s either this way or no way at all and there’s no room for considering alternatives because new information and evidence are disregarded to protect the rigid position of the person in question.  I used to do this all the time and I still do, I’m sure, but I’m heaps better at overcoming rigid thinking than I was in the past.  The first thing I did to smash this stupid practice down was to acknowledge it. I also evicted the monkey.

Rigid thinking has its own little pet monkey that you get to carry around on your back when you let yourself be rigid. It sits there and smashes its toy hammer on your head every step you take. It never lets you forget that its sitting there because its always smashing away and over the years it gets heavy and bloated. Its quite a load to carry, and it will invariably invite its friends over for a head smashing party and they will stay for an indeterminate amount of time. “Far out, I’m so sick of the racket! Will you guys just shut up?” You might scream, but they just laugh maniacally and keep hammering. One day, after years of monkey-oppression you decide that enough is enough and you take one of your rigid ideas and you look at it from all angles. You hold it in your hand and turn it over and see that it’s actually quite an unattractive thing. It has no colour, no depth and there’s a slickness to its surface that you find terribly unappealing, but because it’s been there for so long, you can’t just chuck it away in one fell swoop. Instead, you put it back inside your head, but now you keep your eye on it. At the same time, the monkey sends some of his friends home and the hammering quietens down. You watch that rigid idea from the corner of your eye and you can really start to see how it colours your experience of the world in a negative way. The more you watch it, the more you see it doing this and eventually you decide that the idea is taking up too much real estate in your already overcrowded brain, so you kick it to the curb. To your great amazement, the monkey, and eventually all his buddies, get evicted too. You feel a great weight lifted from your shoulders and the world all at once appears to be amazing in a way you never believed possible.

One monkey is all it takes, just one. If you can challenge a rigid belief or thought and experience how it feels to alleviate the burden of carrying around something that restricted your life rather than enhanced it, the whole thing will come cascading down.

Adventure is an awesome way to shake monkeys off and adventure is available to all of us regardless of who we are, where we live and how much money we have because adventure is about novelty, innovation and creativity: qualities that are purely human and transcendent of anyone’s’ personal situation. Also transcendent of monkeys.





Conondale Range Great Walk

Last week I went on the Conondale Range Great Walk with my friend Freya. It was pretty cool, but pretty damn hard as well. I think it would have to be one of the hardest hikes I’ve been on.

We have no photos of the trip because Freya accidently left her phone at the caravan park and the battery in my 14 year old camera died in the first five minutes. The two brand new replacement batteries I’d ordered were waiting for me when I got home, which was pretty annoying. Aargh! Oh well. I guess not thinking about taking photos of stuff the whole time kind of tethered us to the moment, which helped when I came across a giant python sunning itself on the track. I reckon he would have had a go at us if we’d tried to walk straight past him. I shooed him away with one of my hiking poles. He wasn’t very pleased at all and kept striking at me. Lucky it’s spiders I’m afraid of, not snakes.

At the first campsite someone had left a heap of tinned food on a little shelf in the toilet. There were a couple of Tom Piper meals, so I grabbed one of those and added it to my already huge dinner. “You won’t eat all that,” Freya said. “Watch me,” I said. I was kind of astounded that people had brought such huge tins hiking with them. My pack already weighed around 22kg and I had all dried food and no tins for the four days. Those Tom Piper tins are 400g each!

The next day was hard…I felt like Freya and I were on the set of some kind of commando movie where the heroes are racing against time. At one point Freya said, “we should have brought machetes.” There were huge trees down across the track and vines hanging down everywhere, so we had to clamber over and through obstacles for a fair part of that day. I even had to take my pack off and push it through the snags in one section. Both of us were pretty worried that we wouldn’t get to the campsite in the 8 hours that the track notes suggested we would need. Freya had read a blog before we’d left that said the distance was more like 22km, not 17km, but I tried to put that out of my mind because there was nothing we could do about it anyway. We managed to make it in time to discover that no water came out of the tap at the campsite tank and that we both had lots of leeches all over us. Yuck!!! I got a bit scared about the water, but luckily I discovered a second tap at the back of the tank and water came out of it ok even though it was brown, brown, brown. It was just tannins though, so no big deal.

That night some possums came down to visit us and one of them had a stumpy tail. Stumpy and his buddy were seriously huge, like the fattest possums I’ve ever seen. Stumpy came right up to Freya and I thought he was going to jump on her lap, but he jumped up onto the wooden platform we had everything strewn over and made his way over to Freya’s pack. He jumped on her clothes and picked up her thermal leggings in his mouth. “Quick! He’s got your pants!” I yelled and she immediately shooed him away. He jumped up a tree and sat at the top glaring at us. Little did we know he was calculating how to get even. He waited until we’d gone to bed before coming down and upsetting Freya’s stove to get at the coffee and milk sachet she’d  put inside ready for the next morning. “I came out of my tent just in time to see him making off with it!” She said.

Stumpy wasn’t impressed with us and somehow managed to get the word out to his mates at the next camp. This time it was a team of bush rats. They were scurrying around the site and I hoped that they didn’t continuously run up over my tent like they had at the first campsite. No, instead they ate right through my tent. I’d just gone to bed and could hear this rustling near my head. I thought that I must have somehow collected a giant rainforest cockroach in one of my ziplock bags, so I turned on the little light Freya had lent me (my solar light died a couple of hours earlier and I’d left my headlamp back at the caravan park – what a dick!) only to see a little grey face poking through a nice big, freshly chewed hole. I lost my shit! I’ve never really been a huge fan of my hiking tent (it’s not quite high enough at the foot end), but I’m less of a fan of having to shell out a couple of hundred dollars to buy a new one. At least it didn’t eat through my $500 Deuter pack. I would have been much less impressed with that, which is why we decided to stow all our food inside the tents in the first place.

At the end of the hike we had a couple of hours to spare at the Booloomba Creek day use area and I got to go swimming in an awesome spot. By this time I didn’t care about a lot of things – one of them was being seen in my bra and undies – so I stripped off and jumped into the freezing water. It was awesome and my timing was perfect because not long after I’d gotten out and gotten dressed again a bunch of school kids came through on their school camp! There were actually several schools and there were more than 100 kids in total. Thank god we didn’t have to share any of the campsites on the hike with them, especially the last one where I totally lost my shit about the rat!

That night we ate pizza in Kenilworth and the next day I had a really awesome Nutella donut at the Kenilworth bakery. I really wanted to take their 1kg donut challenge, but seeing I’d eaten all the left over pizza only about an hour earlier I thought maybe I should go back and do it another time. I love donuts! I love pizza too, oh, and burgers, chips, umm, and pasta, and caramel tart, and fresh bread, and icecream, and lollies yeah, and chocolate and, well, just everything really. Food: it’s my favourite.

This is what Freya and I looked like when we finished the hike:

superhero JP and FK

This is a leap of faith. I got heart, you can count on that. It’s all mind over matter…just believe in yourself, you are your own hero. Look at your cape in the wind! Everything you do is cinematic…what you will realise is that you’re more powerful than you can ever imagine. (Bliss n Eso)