The Power of the Ukulele

In a moment of weakness, I mentioned to my parents how hilarious I thought the idea of me sitting on top of Goatfell and playing a Ukulele would be. I was first shown the glorious stupidity of a Ukulele by the bizarre and brilliant Amanda Palmer. Her song about such instruments is something I turn to when I’m in need of a smile, and it fulfils its roll without fail. To picture myself, then, flailing about on a small Scottish island, irritating everyone nearby with my out of tune attempts at melody, was just really very funny. The sort of funny that is only funny because of how stupid it is. The sort of funny that wouldn’t be funny in real life, but instead the source of intense embarrassment.

I forget that my parents listen, sometimes.


So here I am, preparing for my maiden voyage. It’s only meant to be a little thing, but I’m frightened nevertheless. What if I get captured by one of the many hill murderers that frequent the Isle of Arran? What if I disturb a wild stag with my rustling and shivering, causing it to gore me on its horns? What if I get a little bit lonely, and want to go home, and people laugh at me and think I’m weak and stupid?

To be honest, one of the main anxieties I have about going in the first place is a fear that it’s just a terribly lonely thing to do. The sort of thing people without friends do, y’know. I feel like I seem really pathetic, planning a little trip away just for me. Today was the biggest milestone in shaking that anxiety off because I put my money where my mouth is and bought a tent. A tiny little tent that could only ever fit a single person. So, that means I have to go alone, right?

But it’s such a sad little thing to do. It’s so stupid, and it’s just a waste of time. All that’s going to happen is I’m going to get a little depressed and have some fodder for my blog, it’s not going to make me feel more independent or ready for the future or any of those oh so elusive benefits. It’s just a dumb idea.

I think the reason I chose Goatfell for my initial foray into the world was in part because of how silly the name sounds to me. It’s so over the top that it becomes funny, to tell my friends “I’m climbing Goatfell!” It was helpful during the initial stages of convincing myself to do this because it let me narrativise the trip before it even began. I cast myself as this weird little dude whose idea of a world conquering achievement is to climb a tiny mountain surrounded by civilisation. I can laugh at myself when I look at it like that, which only helps convince me it won’t be the worst thing in the world.

That offhand comment about the ukulele was an extension of that tactic. It was me creating an image of my future self so ridiculous that I couldn’t take it seriously. It was a joke to convince them I understood how sad the whole thing seemed, I understood how lonely I must look to want to do this. Well, they apparently remembered, and now my future is set in stone. I shall conquer Goatfell, Ukulele by my side. I shall sing a song to the whole wide world, and I shall do it with confidence, because what the hell, right?

What the hell.

That’s what these three months before university need to be, for me. They need to be a story I can tell myself, something scary and discomforting and a tiny little bit brave. If I can cast my awful voice across mountaintops, I can share my writing with people at university. Well, maybe that’s a little optimistic. But it’s a first step, and first steps are the hardest ones to take.

Buying that tent was scary. I had a moment of intense anxiety when I approached the counter with it. I stopped in the que, turned around, and pretended to my dad that I wanted to go and look at some other tents before committing to the purchase. Instead I just wanted to pace idly back and forth, convincing myself this wasn’t a terrible idea. But eventually, after reminding myself how much I’d regret it if I didn’t do this stupid adventure rubbish, I close my eyes, clenched my fists, and bought the tiny tent.

That felt like the first step. It felt like the hardest thing I’ll actually have to do for a while. Getting on the train is bound to be harder, but eh, I’ll cross that bridge when I come for it. For now I’ll just distract myself until the moment comes. I think I’ll distract myself by playing some music, if you can really call it that. I think I’ll sit in my room, strumming away at those four taught strings, giggling at the sheer ridiculousness of the adventure I’ve just begun.

2 thoughts on “The Power of the Ukulele

  1. Do send me a postcard when you reach Goatfell won’t you..if materials as such are scarce up there..perhaps a calling to a golden eagle will soar past you and fly past London town to send word of your adventures.

    And that is a charming Ukulele. A stunning colour and I find them very comforting to hear..I like a folklore song every so often. ☺

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    1. I shall whisper to a winged stone and send it your way. The stone shall be bloody by the time it reaches you, for the wings don’t grow themselves. They are thankfully trained to make little in the way of mess. That, of course, is simply how things are done on Goatfell, ever since the witches step did earn it’s name.

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