A holiday on Dartmoor – where I’d grown up. Exploring new-to-me parts of it, but also – on a whim – trying to find old locations, places I’d played. And finding more than I’d have predicted.
So, I’m walking on the moor and, out of curiosity, ended up revisiting somewhere I’d played, pre-teen. It wasn’t a pre-decided goal – it was just something that occurred to me as I stood first on Sharpitor and then Leather Tor.
This – ‘Getting Directions’ – is fundamentally about finding what’s been formative; what’s made me who I am now. Walking near and beside Devonport Leat, having by chance first spotted what I thought might be it, offered a bit more light.
I found myself revisiting where I’d played many times, where my parents had sat back and relaxed while I’d tried to dam the stream below the little aqueduct or jump the water; where I’d been free to explore. And I realised for the first time that these were formative years, formative experiences.
It explains, in part, how I am now and have been ever since those years way back when. It gives me a root cause to my persistent ‘need’ to be outside, and the pleasure it continues to gives me.
I could go on and try to deduce what, of this or that aspect of life, is more or less important to the me as I am now. It would be a long process, if it’s even possible. But whatever all the other constituent parts might be, walking by Devonport Leat again has made me understand that playing on Dartmoor was and remains a significant element.
Arguably … what’s truly formative or, indeed, transformative in anyone’s life has to be variable. And, arguably, it should always be open to change in the light of actual or vicarious experience. Devising some sort of hierarchy of what anyone might consider formative in a life also needs to be a personal variable.
But be all that as it may, understanding what is formative remains a worthwhile goal for everyone. It is an essential core aspect to anyone’s attempt to navigate their life.