I have been watching a series of programs entitled ‘Secret Britain’. The program featuring Dartmoor was of particular interest because it is one of our most enjoyed short break retreats. One of the people interviewed for the programme expressed his appreciation of the space and freedom that the moor gives him. He illustrated this by tramping across an offbeat part of the moor and setting up camp in his one-man tent for the night. It looked absolutely idyllic. As the light of his tent went out for the night and he was surrounded by the darkness, I realised that, although I would enjoy the same space and solitude during the day, I would not relish the thought of the overnight camping. That would be taking my own space too far and I would feel most vulnerable. I did however, appreciate how much planning of the route, equipment and suitable clothing would have been necessary for such a wonderful experience.
I looked up the bylaws for camping on the moor and found that, just as this experienced camper had mentioned, one did not require permission to camp on the moor. However, there were a lot of bylaws to read through and you soon discover that there are many requirements to ensure safety, privacy and preservation of livestock and vegetation, including routes to keep to, correct equipment and time limits on places set aside for campers. I realised that accepting and using that space came at a price.
I also thought of time. This rather amusing but all too familiar scenario came to mind. Imagine yourself walking through a busy office during coffee break time. How many office workers would be at their desks, steaming hot drink in one hand, tapping at computer keys with the other and cradling a telephone between their shoulder and cheek? Some stay on at work at the end of the shift to do that urgent bit extra to ensure that tomorrow gets off to a good start. The late night means the ‘my space’ things such as shopping for tea, spending the evening with a friend, going for a bike ride etc are cancelled or rushed and become frustrating and unsatisfactory rather than a restful or exciting break. How many times do holidays become a frenetic rush to start with and end with an unnecessary exhaustion?
After thought I deduced that our time needed to be managed to make the space for the coffee break or the day off, weekend away, sporting activity, seeing a film, reading a book or whatever refreshes or pleases us. The time found will offer us the amount of space to do something with. Now we have a wonderful opportunity to use our creative skills. Space fillers will either happen spontaneously or will need careful consideration. What we do need is some aspiration and vision or we could find ourselves in a totally disappointed or disillusioned place at the end of the day because we have not filled the space that time has given us with satisfying, good things. It is up to us, not the reliance on someone else to do for us what we are capable of doing for ourselves. We know what we need so who other than ourselves can best find good things to fill our space which is pressured by demanding schedules or stressful, difficult situations?
Dartmoor has its detailed bylaws to preserve the beauty and quality of the moor and its visitors. What is our strategy to preserve our value? What will we do, or not do, to give ourselves respect and in doing so respect others? The end result could be of great benefit. We will not allow others to encroach on our space as we will respect theirs. Their time, possessions and enjoyment will be as precious to them as ours is to us. Mutual respect is a much-needed commodity in this rather self-centred society of today. We have a wonderful opportunity to put things in place to improve the quality of not only our own but someone else’s well-being too.