Tony Malcolm gets vocal about the difference between monetary gain
through the financial institutions of the City versus the mental wealth to be accumulated from the liquid assets of the Riverbank.
Never one to shy away from an analogy, I’m going to milk this one for all it’s worth.
And for me, it is worth more than anything of monetary value, which is the theme I’m going to stick to without drifting too far into spurious metaphors (okay, maybe I’ll go off course every now and again).
When it comes to our mental wellbeing, we put far too much emphasis on what we have in our bank account as an indicator of our happiness and equilibrium.
But for me, the banks have failed us all miserably. They pushed us into an almighty crash with their policy of putting profits before people and their failure to scrutinise their way of doing business.
However, there is one bank that was established well before any of these financial institutions, that never lets anyone down who is willing to invest.
Established in Thames Head and keeping a stream of liquid assets flowing through some of the most affluent areas of the southern counties for countless millennia, it is known quite simply as ‘The Thames Riverbank’.
You might be thinking I’m pushing my luck on this comparison, but I have gained much more in terms of mental wealth from the banks of the Thames than I have from the bank account I opened as a student back in the Neolithic period.
Even mental health professionals agree that exercise and connecting back to nature is hugely beneficial in combating depression and anxiety.
I have spent many an hour running along the banks of the Thames between Kew Bridge and Teddington Lock to know that there are great dividends to be gained.
My erstwhile mother-in-Law once told me that as humans, we are 70% water ; so flow like a river.
In my life, there have been times that my mind has raced like rapids, churned and created turmoil as it rushed through the meandering course of my younger life.
Worries of paying mortgages, school fees, taxes, bills, speeding fines, keeping relevant in the workplace and striving for that next pay rise or promotion dogged my life. And when I say dog, it was the ‘black dog’ of depression that was stalking me through this time of stress and mental agitation.
As Ruby Wax says in her book ‘Frazzled’ she was so caught up in the rip of that particular tide in her earlier life, that there are large stretches of her childrens’ younger lives that she can’t even remember.
So back to my bank analogy. Walking or running along the Thames always makes me thankful for the return on my ongoing investment.
I take the time to slow my mind down to the pace of the Thames when the water is gently flowing between tides.
I marvel at the wildlife that presents itself so willingly for me to ponder what their lives must be like.
Even the odd rat that scurries across the path offers a distraction from the rat race us Londoners face on a daily basis.
The Thames Bank has no demanding manager in a grey suit, no ‘computer says no’ assistants, no corporate colour apart from verdant green and an array of floral hues.
It doesn’t send you demands, it doesn’t fail to help in a crisis and its support is unrelenting. It keeps you mentally in the black, by keeping the ‘black dog’ at bay.
So laugh all the way to this particular bank with your family. Build up memories of skimming stones, rowing boats, walking your beast, taking wonderful shots on your camera phone to put on FB, Instagram and other social media. Sit and watch the waters ebb and flow as the people do the same.
These are the banks where Henry VIII used to stop on his way to London to enjoy an Eel Pie. These are the banks Vincent van Gogh walked on his way from Isleworth to Ham where he was a preacher.
These are the banks that drew poets and painters like Hogarth and Turner. It’s no accident that palaces and stately homes from Hampton Court to Syon and Kew sprung up with this spectacular view on their doorstep.
But you don’t have to be rich to be a premier customer. This is a free-for-all bank where the only queues are to board a ferry or paddle steamer to get closer to the H2O.
This particular bank has cleaned up its act from containing some of the most stagnant and polluted deposits from Victorian times to now teeming with fish and the odd passing whale or dolphin.
So take this to the bank in the certain knowledge that everything that you put in will offer real dividends in terms of mental wellbeing.
How to live well
Health, wealth and happiness on our stretch of the Thames
©RiverTribe Magazine 2017