Blog: Answering the Call of the Wild, and an Ode to Postie Steve
10 minute read
Hello dear reader and welcome to the completely mixed bag of content that is otherwise known as the blog post.
This is the Lossul equivalent of those late-night magazine shows that we used to get on TV; think of Channel 4’s The Word back in the 90’s and you’re on the right track (1).
Whereas the articles and features that I write are very focussed in their subject matter, these blog posts are more like an explosive brain-fart.
They’re messy, they’re random, and you never know what you’re going to get; just like Forrest Gump and his infamous box of chocolates.
And on that farty and chocolatey note, let’s get things started.
I’d like to begin, as always, by re-capping very quickly on the articles that I’ve published since the last blog post.
Note – if you’re already up to date on all these and/or you’re just not bothered about hearing me prattle on about these things, then feel free to skip the next few paragraphs. I’ll still love you if you do.
First there was a long overdue article for the Travel and Places section, which was all about a mini-adventure that I had one Sunday morning last autumn.
Lud’s Church and The Roaches gives a great little insight into this hidden gem of the Midlands; a place that allows you to connect with your inner-adventurer, and which has you feeling as though you’ve stepped into a lost world.
Next came The Myth About ‘Finding the One’. This article had been in the pipework for a long time, and was one of those topics that had been gnawing away at me.
As such, it’s been very carefully considered; the central theme being that ‘the one’ is not somebody that we find, but rather something that becomes.
After this came a feature that proved to be a real challenge for me.
Maddy’s Story was the first post-Covid interview that I’d carried out, and in a number of ways I felt like the proverbial fish-out-of-water. I was nervous, lacking confidence, and I really had to push through my comfort zone.
Maddy is a childhood friend of mine, yet I’d not seen her since, well, since we were actually children. To be precise, it had been 36 years since we’d last seen each other, yet it really was a case of it having felt like only yesterday.
We’d re-connected via Instagram, and when I learnt of the many things that Maddy has had to deal with in life (and still deal with), I felt compelled to help share her story.
She’s an incredible lady with a massive heart and an amazing outlook, so please do give this a read. You’ll absolutely fall in love with her.
The day after I visited Maddy, I travelled further into Wales to meet Myrddyn Phillips; otherwise known as the Mountain Measurer.
The interview with Myrddyn saw the re-birth of the Meeting the Dull Men of Great Britain project, having spent three years on the side-lines due to that pandemic thingy; but two consecutive days of interviewing proved to be too much for me.
Despite having a genuine love of people, I’m introverted by nature; and it didn’t take long until my social fuel tank was running on empty. Thankfully Myrddyn turned out to be a thoroughly top bloke, and he unknowingly managed to help carry me through it.
The final result is a feature that I’m really proud of, so please do check it out. And to any fans of the DMC features, I can confirm that I already have the next participant lined up; so please do watch this space.
On the face of it, Save Some Things Just for You is about the downsides of over-sharing, yet there’s more to it than that.
While we very often think of over-sharing as being about the things that we choose to tell people, it can also be a myriad of other things. It could be a favourite song, movie, or something else that really matters to us. But in some instances, we end up living to regret having shared these things.
And last but definitely not least came the most recent article, The Goodness That Surrounds You.
While many of the articles I write can come together over a number of days, if not weeks (2); this article is an example of one that came together in less than two hours.
This doesn’t happen very often – given how busy life can be – but on a Saturday afternoon earlier this year, I came home feeling inspired to write, and it just poured out of me in one sitting.
It’s open, it’s honest, and I like to think that it inspires hope. But what do you think? Please let me know.
It’s been a busy year for the website; a lot of which has included a greater use of social media. Instead of focussing purely on articles for the website, I’ve been trying to branch out a little by focussing some of my attention towards shorter, ‘quick-hit’ posts.
I have countless ideas that come to me every single day, and I’m frequently having to scramble for my notepad or my phone just so that I can write them all down (3).
I often wish it were possible to be able to turn every single one of them into articles; but this wish then leads me to making a second wish, which would grant me all the spare time that I’d need in order to do all this writing.
Sadly though, there are still only 24 hours in a day, and so the result is that some articles manage to get written, while the rest end up on these shorter social media posts which attempt to hammer home the message in around 300 words or less (4).
That’s better than nothing, right?
Speaking of social media, we often hear about the negative aspects that accompany it, but right now I want to provide an example of when social media really demonstrates its power.
Reading is one of my favourite pass-times, and I own so many books that I’d probably have to live until I’m 150 years old just to guarantee reading them all. But despite my love of reading, I’d never read the same book more than once.
A couple of months ago, while we were still in the harsh grip of winter, I found myself digging out my favourite book; a book that had come to have very special meaning in my life.
That book, is Call of The Wild by Guy Grieve (5).
Back in 2009 I moved into my first house, which was also my first experience of living alone. It was a cosy little one-bedroomed cottage that was built way back in the early 1800’s, and it’s a place that still holds many happy memories for me.
It had charm, it had character, but on the first day of moving in, that was all that it had. It was empty, completely bare, and I had such little money that it remained that way for some time. Yet even in those early spartan days, I still managed to make it mine.
With no TV and no sofa, all I had for entertainment was a CD player and my books. And on the very first night of living there, I remember positioning my spring-back Ikea armchair beside the window, allowing me a view that extended out into the garden and the clear night sky.
On the other side of me was a number of unopened packing boxes, one of which I decided to use as a makeshift coffee table. It housed a small table lamp with a low wattage bulb, not even powerful enough to light up the tiny 9’ x 9’ room; yet it was perfect for creating a warm and welcoming ambience that filled my new reading corner.
I sat down and put my feet up on a cardboard box full of CD’s, and with the steam from a cup of tea gently rising beside me, I opened up my new book; Call of the Wild.
Before I knew it, I was transported to another world and was embarking on a virtual adventure, the memories of which would never leave me.
Guy’s story is one that the majority of us can relate to, or rather, his motivations for the adventure that followed.
Stuck in a job that he hated, completing a long commute each day, and up to his eyeballs in debt; it’s little wonder that he spent so much of his time dreaming of escape.
But this wasn’t just any old dream of escape. It wasn’t whimsical. It was specific.
It was an absolute vision.
Guy didn’t want to just cut his ties and skip off into the sunset; he wasn’t running away. Instead, he wanted to push himself and test his limits so that he could come back a happier man, and a better man.
His dream was to take himself to the harsh interior of the Alaskan wilderness and to live there for a full year. Not only that, but he’d have to build his own log cabin from scratch, drive a dog sled, and he’d have to avoid being eaten by bears.
What started as an office daydream, suddenly began to snowball (6). But Guy also had responsibilities to consider, the biggest of which included a wife and two young children.
I believe that all men need to have some degree of freedom in their lives, even if it’s just an illusion of freedom. Very often we never actually want to act upon that freedom, it’s more that we need to believe that we could if we wanted to (7).
I believe that it’s in our nature, and so I understand why this desire would have arisen, given the position that he was at in life.
Most people would choose to supress this desire though, and they do so because of the guilt that can accompany it. And while there was a definite sense of guilt that sat alongside his vision, his wife understood how important it was to him – and ultimately, to the family – and so Guy received their full support.
After a few months of planning and preparation, Guy set off to answer the call of the wild.
There were so many key takeaways that I took from his book; the importance of humility, how priceless our friendships can be, and the strength of love.
There were moments that led me to tears, such as when Guy received a video snippet of his family back home and he described the agony that he felt in that moment; seeing the people that he loved most in this world, yet knowing that they were thousands of miles away and that it would be months until he could embrace them again.
I cannot even imagine how that must have felt.
Then there were the times when the severity of his situation kicked in. Isolated, cut off from civilisation, and knowing that every single action had to be thought through because even the smallest of mistakes could lead to his death.
Guy also had to concede to his inexperience and needed to quieten the ego so that he could accept help. There’s a fine line between bravery and stupidity, and in an environment like Alaska, navigating that line incorrectly could be fatal; something that proved to be true for the many others that have tried to do the very same thing, alone. Their stories didn’t have such a happy ending.
And finally, it was the descriptions of the environment that really had my imagination running wild. The imagery of driving a dog sled along that beautiful snowy landscape underneath a starry night sky. The log cabin with snow piled up high against the walls, icicles hanging from the edges of the frosty tin roof, and the magical vividness of the northern lights.
And I can only imagine how it must’ve been to step outside of the cabin and to experience complete silence, the stillness, and that bright winter moon illuminating the freshly fallen snow, completely pristine, with not a single footstep in sight.
These are the moments that have never left me, right from that very first reading back in 2009, sat amongst all those packing boxes in my tiny one-bedroomed cottage.
Fourteen years later and completely settled into my new home, I was sat back on my sofa in front of a roaring log burner, reading those very same descriptions and feeling the magic once more.
I mentioned at the start of this section about the power of social media, and there was a good reason for this.
About two thirds of the way into the book I decided to record a short Instagram reel. The book was sat on my coffee table in front of the roaring fire, a glass of whisky sat beside it (8). With a brief caption included, I tagged Guy and then placed the phone down and thought no more of it.
But much to my surprise, Guy soon replied, with a short video of his own; a glass of whisky being raised in appreciation. And then a conversation began.
As I said once before, social media often gets a bad name, and there’s good reason for that. But social media is also a platform that can be used for good, and it enables connections to be made that at one time would have been practically impossible.
Thank you, Guy. It meant the world to me.
Please do check out Call of the Wild and allow yourself that virtual escape, and to be inspired for your own adventure. Oh, and for any of you that are dog lovers, there’s a four-legged furry character in this book that you’ll absolutely fall in love with. I know I did.
You can pick up the book by clicking here. And please do leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
And to end this section of the post, I’ll leave you with a wonderful quote from the book.
“Sometimes, just sometimes, it pays to refuse to be rational, and to turn our backs on everything that society says we should do. Whether our destiny lies halfway across the world or in the next room, what is certain is that we have only one life, and it must belong to us.”Guy Grieve
Now that’s a statement that I can definitely raise a glass to.
Before I wrap this piece up, I want to include a little dedication to somebody.
This dedication is relevant to the most recent article that I published, because goodness really is all around us, and this is often displayed through small acts of kindness, considerations, and gestures.
Today, I want to give recognition to a person that has proven that to me, time and time again. And that person, is our neighbourhood post-man.
Yes, you heard that right. The post-man.
Going by the name of Postie Steve, he’s a man that I’ve still not met in person (9), yet he constantly manages to lift my spirits and puts a smile on my face.
Like most people, I often get parcels delivered while I’m out at work; and then when I get back home I’ll find the red Royal Mail delivery card in my post-box explaining that they’d attempted to deliver said package.
All pretty standard so far, right?
Well, Postie Steve doesn’t just leave a card, because he’ll also find new and inventive ways to hide my parcels.
It could be behind my wheelbarrow, underneath the cover of my garden dining set, or maybe it’s hidden away in the wood store between a couple of logs.
Either way, it puts a smile on my face, but not just because of the mini treasure hunt that ensues, but because he’ll always write me a little note, sign it off as Postie Steve, and then he’ll draw a smiley face. Back around Christmas time, he even drew a couple of holly sprigs alongside his big festive grin.
This may not sound like much, but at times when we’re stressed, feeling down, or when we’re absolutely struggling with the challenges of life; the tiniest of gestures can make a massive difference.
What you do, what you say, and how you act; this can all act as a tipping point in somebody’s life; for the better, or for the worse.
What may seem small to you, could be life-changing to somebody else. Please remember this.
Postie Steve has unknowingly lifted my spirits at times when I’ve needed it, and I’ve kept every single one of his cards as a reminder of this.
Thank you, Postie Steve.
And thank you, all of you, for your continued support of this site.
I think that’s a perfect place to wrap things up and I’m going to sign off by sending you all a massive virtual hug and a wicked high-five.
Now get out into the world, soak up all the beauty that surrounds you, and be sure to live your best lives; because it’s only when we’re away from all the noise and the distraction, that we’re really able to work out what our best lives actually look like. And it’s both nature, and solitude, that are our two best teachers for that.
I’ll leave you with one final quote from Call of the Wild.
“So many of our good natural instincts are smothered by society, and much of our daily lives are directed by false goals, dictated to us by others. Even in this day and age, with our sophisticated technology and developed culture, it must still be important, just occasionally, to find a wild place, where the land and the animals that move through it speak loudest, and the sun and the moon dictate the rhythm of our lives. Only through this can we remember our proper place in the order of things.”Guy Grieve
(1) Although there’ll be no equivalent of The Hopefuls segment that was on that show. Do you remember that crazy shit? You know, where people drank their own puke and licked the armpits of sweaty fat people? Look it up on You Tube if you dare. Wrong. Plain wrong. On every single level.
(2) And sometimes even months or years.
(3) This may sound cool, but in some ways, it feels like a curse. Imagine having to keep pulling over to the side of the road when you’re driving, just because you need to jot an idea down before you forget about it. And I won’t even go into what sometimes happens when I’m in the shower and an idea comes to me.
(4) And more recently I’ve also been including music which I use to try and emphasise the emotion that underlies the post.
(5) Not to be confused with the classic short story, The Call of The Wild, by Jack London.
(6) Snow pun intended – I know, I know, that’s a shit joke, please forgive my sense of humour Guy.
(7) Very often when we hear about somebody wanting their freedom, we assume that it means something negative. We conjure images of hurtfully selfish behaviour or of somebody being unfaithful, but that’s not what I’m getting at. Freedom could be a night of wild-camping, a day out with friends, or even some alone time for quiet reflection. Sometimes these acts of freedom aren’t even needed, and if you were to encourage him to go out and see his friends and have a great time, he may not even want to; the key thing is that he just needs to believe that freedom is available to him. If a man is suppressed of freedom and is denied a sense of autonomy, you’ll see the worst of him.
(8) Actually, it was a bourbon old-fashioned, but the link was that Guy is a whisky drinker too, with Highland Park playing a key part in the book and as one of the major sponsors.
(9) Since writing this feature I’ve now actually met Postie Steve, twice, and he’s proven to be just as friendly in person as he is on his little red delivery cards. I also told him about how much I’ve appreciated his gestures, and I let him know that he’s made a difference.
Share this post: