“It’s Not the Wound that Teaches – But the Healing.” – Marty Rubin
Funny old thing this game of life, one moment I was ready, prepared and willing to embrace an exciting new phase of one’s sexagenarian existence, ergo; ‘The retirement years’, then my well meaning family practitioner, (let’s refer to him as ‘Doc Holliday) informs me that I suffering from a melancholic disorder, so prevalent apparently, particularly in those who have spent numerous years within the armed forces, such as myself.
I was prompted to arrange a visit with the aforementioned doctor, largely through my inexplicable and frequent (albeit covert) bouts of maudlin behaviour – the same of which that I had been experiencing for circa three to four months prior to my appointment.
The only passages that I ever [involuntary] wept during the course of my adult lifetime, were quintessentially during those horrible interludes when news is relayed through concerning the bereavement of kin or past colleague, or those emotionally-charged moments when confirmation is received of the educational/professional milestones accomplished by both wife and offspring, (So uncontrollably proud, I always am) plus that of the realisation that one’s football team had lost yet another Cup Final – and then pathetically reconciling oneself to the cheerless fact that the ‘Reds’ would never scoop sporting silverware during the course one’s entire lifetime…enough to make any man cry for sure, former soldier or otherwise!!!
‘Doc Holliday’ is a very, very good man, not that I have had the need to visit him, [thankfully] over the last two decades, in effect however, when I entered his surgery last year, we were relative strangers – nonetheless, come the end of my 30-minute tête-à-tête, I sensed that I had been wholly energised – renewed, rejuvenated, and not because the ‘doc’ had provided me with a fantastical instant elixir to overcome the inherent ‘ailment’, that of which had so unwelcomingly encroached into my infirm psyche, no, much more than that, he administered me with a course personal ‘direction’, and to be consumed as many times per day as required.
Following the primary phase of my ‘evaluation’, the goodly Doctor ‘H’ drew my attention to the screen on his PC, illustrating graphically the medication he was about to prescribe – and any after- effects it may bring. “Take one of these at night – and then one of these in the morning” when you have completed a 14-day intake of the course, come back and see me.”
“I am bound by my profession to dispense the most beneficial means in which may bring to an end to the discomfort you are currently experiencing” he uttered, almost ruefully. “Deep breaths too, remain as worthwhile expediency when anxious feelings consume you, should you wish to avoid being overly-dependent on your medication that is, he added purposefully, I in turn, retained a mental note to consider this plausible option as a wholly worthwhile preference.
He then stated that, given my obvious disorientation with general life following a hugely fulfilling and enormously active professional career, entwined with my current fitness levels and relatively sound, fiscal elasticity, I should consider embarking on a soul-finding mission, a purposeful sojourn to a country, or countries of my choice, then negotiate the possibilities of traversing across foreign real estate with nothing more than appropriate sensible clothing, along with a sturdy pair of walking boots and good size Bergen to house my personal belongings – adding further that the demons that possessed me could be met head-on through the adventures that would undeniably ensue – a latter day retreat, one that would eradicate or ultimately quell the rustling of my current discontent.
He added that my travels would be best concluded, not by unhealthily reflecting alone at trip’s end, but to find release through writing extensively about one’s exploits throughout the period of self-discovery, well away from UK shores.
Once out of the surgery – and a mere thirteen days following my liaison with the ‘Doc’, I had put together an agenda, booked my flight tickets, arranged for connecting transport and secured the necessary visas for; China, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and areas of governmental approval, located on the periphery of Burmese, (Myanmar) border – given the excitement that consumed me regarding what lay ahead, I had not even looked at the blister pack of medication that had been issued by the ‘Doc, my faltering mind during this period, had been given liberty, now was all about precise focus – and not psychotically faltering.
My expedition commenced at the start of October last – and drew to a close at the end of November, much of my experiences in tropical climes I intend to share with fellow retirees over the coming weeks and months, yet, in accordance with the wishes of my MD, I must start at the very beginning – and then take the readership with me, step by step, on a voyage of no equal, in my humble opinion.
So, the diagnostic scribbling commences, thus; a literary quest to finally conquer the psychosomatic bandits that first established their cheerless attendance within my psyche – and, who knows precisely when?
In reflection, there is a prolonged and draining omnipresence of a melancholic status quo, I now fully recognise that prior to my travels, I was actually on the edge of permanent mental wretchedness – and without any real expectation of securing psychotic liberty without the aid of medical backing.
Prior to my appointment with Doctor ‘H’ – I had consulted with other veterans, some of which had been, or were enduring similar mental ambiguities, a number of which were unhealthily anaesthetising their troubling transience with all-too frequent intakes of non-prescribed pharmaceutical linctuses.
I refer to those powerful, internet accessible [universal] ‘remedies’, predominantly oval in design, with the odd exceptions being rectangular of even diamond shaped, small multi-coloured pebbles, confection-like in appearance -these ‘babies’ come with their own in-built escape hatch, with the dubious promise that Nirvana is just one gulp away.