As another wonderful week in Austria comes to a close, sitting in departures at Salzburg airport, I have time to reflect on what has just past and what lies ahead. I am in a period of transition. Not lost in transition like Tom Hanks as I have my boarding card, passport and a home awaiting. It is sunny outside and we had a lovely drive out of the mountains from Hinterglemm after a very nice, if early, breakfast. We had great weather all week culminating with a really big storm last night as we dined, my wife loves the thunder and lightning, I do not mind it when in the hotel and not up on some mountain top. We love Austria, it is our sixth visit and it just gets better every time. Personally I love the physicality of the places we stay, the beautiful resorts up in the mountain ranges, the fantastic nutritious food and the cool Austrian beer brewed under the strict German purity laws I might add, no fish bladder additives here.
That is it really, it the naturalness of the experience, you are one swift gondola ride apart from the peaks and endless paths where you can wander at will. Despite being in the tourist hotspots you can soon find space and isolation away from the herd. I spent one day on my own pounding my way around multiple peaks on a walk that pushed me if not to the limit the quite close. I hardly saw a sole all day, just a few fellow tribe members, comrades of the walking class with their uniforms and their polite hellos. Being on your own, out there up high on a precipitous rocky ridge where each separate footstep is of strategic importance, is being truly alive. Breathing the cleanest of air and carrying all you need to survive if things go bad, and they can go bad quickly up there.
It is far from the comfort of everyday life, on some of the ascents The leg muscles burn and the lungs cry out for oxygen, the mind is the most important muscle though as it is the determination to complete the task that separates you out from the casual tourist stumbling exhausted up the one peak nearest to the ski lift complete with bar and restaurant. Walking here, out miles away from any realistic help, trusting to your own skills and a good map, where the testing ground is, that is what draws me back here time and again. There are many, many beautiful walks back home but nothing on this scale or with this feeling of remoteness. As a species we crave the companionship of the group, our family and I cannot wait to see mine, including our little dog Bertie who we have missed all week. However, there is a time we need to be away from the tribe to truly appreciate the value of membership.
My friends will be training this morning, there will be the Ju Jitsu class then the Self Defence and Combat Fitness training and this I am craving for after just a week away. If I were home now I would be heading out in 30 minutes to put the mats down, to prepare physically and mentally for a mornings training. Meeting the people that I share so many good times with and getting those punching and kicking drills rolling and working the body and mind hard. See the parallel?
That is why I am sat writing to work through this period of transition. Making the slow mind-shift out of holiday mood, pulling myself away from the lure of the hills and back slowly to the joyful experience that is my weekly training regime. The breaks are good, they refresh the soul, but the pull to train, to fight, to punch, to kick, to give everything is strong in this one. I need to return to my tribe, or tribes. This shape shifting ends once more as I head home, I have loved this week away but want my home, family and friends now. I want to go back to me. Transition completed.