On having a hinterland…

Every so often while the ‘ yogi is reflecting on something or other, synchronicity usually crash lands around him to prod him further on in his reflections, and from reflection to doing, and hopefully, being.

Recently, he was reflecting on the value of depth and breadth in living and being fulfilled in life. In essence, the more broadly you expose yourself to things and the deeper you explore them, the richer and more fulfilled you may become.

So he was thinking about this on his drive up to Cumbria recently, and on the drive, he turned the radio on and what should the singer be singing?  “the river is deep and the river is wide, you got to ford it to get to the other side”………………..

And then in the place where the yogi was staying, he decided to sit by the fire and read. The only available readable material was an old Daily Telegraph newspaper, which if you know a very english yogi, you’ll realise it’s not his default newspaper…Anyhow it’s a seriously dated newspaper and he opens the pages and there is an article about the importance of “having a hinterland”, written by Emma Soames. For the curious, the article can be found in the Daily Telegraph online,  and can be found here. Hinterlands according to Emma Soames are experiential or existential spaces created by people through their interests and outlook. Having a hinterland makes people  deep and broad…….

And then over lunch with a local Druid fella, the next day, the yogi, heard him mutter : “you have got to have your own hinterland”. The yogi nearly fell off his chair, but recovered his composure and asked the Druid what he meant.  The Druid said that he encountered so many people, who didn’t have  a hinterland and this was, he felt,  much to their personal cost. He came across people who had retired with little else to interest them because they had focused solely on their careers, or whose sole focus had been family, and they had woken up feeling too one dimensional as a result.

So many references to ‘hinterland’ and all at the same time. The english yogi has to say that something, or someone, somewhere is giving him a fairly big hint about something. He counts this as a synchronicity thing but more importantly he thinks it needs some serious consideration. 

The general consensus is that it is important to have a hinterland. So, yes, push or stick yourself out like a promontory facing the wide expanse of the sea and all its glittering opportunities, but make sure you have a good solid swathe of land to fall back on when the waves of the sea crash on your cliffs and start eroding them.   So if you aren’t sure if you have a hinterland, the first thing is to review yourself and your life.  The key thing about this is that providing you are, or have become, genuinely curious about the world beyond your own space, then you can start building your hinterland if it’s not already there.

The yogi is influenced by his now, deceased, Grandfather.  Inspite of his horrendous experiences on the Somme in World War I, or maybe because of these, Grandpa had an unswerving interest and natural curiosity about the world around him, which led him in many directions, and made him, even in his later years when he was elderly and infirm, an interesting, ecletic and intriguing companion.  The yogi has learnt a great deal from him over the years, but more importantly he learned with fun, humour and with what we would call nowadays, a hypertextual interest in a wide range of often unconnected matters.  Grandpa also had many hobbies and interests: he would potter in the garden, growing flowers and veg’; he followed the NASA space programme, and loved food and art. He was always interested in people, and what made them ‘tick’.  One of the many things he told the yogi, was to “never underestimate the value of a hobby or three, and always keep your eyes and ears open to new ideas and views”.   The key to building and maintain your hinterland is to have lots of interests, and hobbies, take an interest in the world around you and beyond your patch, and learn as much as you can.

So when the waves and winds of time start eroding your own personal promontory, built as it may well be on career, family, status, ego,  money or any other such thing – you’ll find that you have a richer, wider, deeper life to fall back on and launch yourself from in due course when the glittering prizes lose their glitter or recede in importance as things often do. 

Of course, the best hinterlands have emerged, as a result of sediment piling up over time, creating a large expanse of land, so that when you find the erosion starting on the promontory,  you can look back to see this land you created and which you can return to.

Emma Soames in her article describes (as one example) doing yoga as a contemporary hinterland. ‘English Yogi couldn’t agree more. Making a decision to go to a yoga class is a big step for many but once you have gone and have kept going – you’ll suddenly find that yoga is not only very beneficial and fun, but that it isn’t just about the asanas or poses. As your practice deepens you’ll find that yoga is a rich tradition with many aspects that you can explore with many benefits.  However, the first thing is to get to a class. 

Although it’s not the only thing in a very english yogi’s life, he does consider yoga to be a good hinterland to have. He hopes you can find it and draw on it too.

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