Survivor’s Guilt

It’s been nearly a year since our lives all changed as a result of the CV-19 pandemic. We were warned something like this might happen; did we listen? We saw it coming over the horizon; did we react? Lot’s of lessons will be learnt from this experience by many, perhaps all – from individuals, education, businesses to government. What have you learnt, lost and gained? When this is all over, what will you do differently and how will life change – indeed, will it?

For me, there has been minimal work, so I have had to ‘do things’. When permitted and within national guidelines I have run, cycled, rock and ice climbed, skied, paddled and swam. I have DIY’d (is that a word?), gardened, cooked, re-organised and bought a dog! If this is what retirement looks like, I am not ready. I need contact with a wider population. I love meeting new people and I love supporting people in the development of their skills and knowledge be that mountaineering, biking or first aid. I still need the ‘kick’!

On a personal level my relationship with my two university age son could not be stronger, I have loved having them around. My wife has been an inspiration – and continues to be so. I have been blown away by the spirit within this country, by the togetherness and the friendliness. I have loved meeting my neighbours and others who live near me. It has been great getting in touch with many who I had lost touch with. I have also been frustrated and saddened by those who abuse the countryside as if it is wasteland which has no value.

I have had some fabulous adventures in the hills and mountains in Scotland, latterly only a short distance from home. The winter conditions have allowed me to continue to practice and enjoy the skills of the winter mountaineer such as snow and ice climbing, winter walking and ski touring. How much will you travel from home – when you are allowed? Overseas? Short-haul, long-haul?

So much of the last eleven months I have enjoyed, and for that I feel slightly guilty! I have offered help where I can and supported some through these tough times as best as I can. For now though I am looking forward to a time when we can collectively reflect on our experiences, tell our stories and share our plans for the future. What will be different for me? I will not take health, wealth and happiness for granted. I will enjoy my work in the training rooms and in the mountains – in my happy place. Join me there on the other side 🙂

Author: Will Manners

Will Manners is a Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (WMCI), and International Mountain Leader, a Nordic Ski Instructor (BASIO 2) and a Mountain Bike Leader. Passionate about all things in the mountains including hill running, ski touring, bike packing and kayaking.