30th November 2017
I wrote a page entitled LEJOG, and the one question I didn’t answer was ‘Why?’
It’s maybe the hardest question of all, but I was asked it today, by someone who already knew the answer and nodded with recognition when I spoke about expanding boundaries and making memories, “What an amazing thing to look back on, and just imagine all the things you’ll see and experience…” Yes, you ‘got’ it. 🙂
Much of 2015 was spent in a dark haze of pain as the result of a multiple-cause shoulder problem that was eventually resolved by surgery in August. With the aid of physiotherapy I progressed quickly and by the end of the year I had not only recovered almost all of the use of my right arm, but was feeling much better and finding the joy in life again, as well as trying to regain some of the lost fitness.
Joy is about recognising opportunities and not just obstacles, choosing to say “Why not?” more often than “No way” or “I can’t” and sometimes just taking a deep breath and going for it.
I follow the exploits and achievements of some extraordinary people. The point about them is that they are ordinary people who just kept going when other people stopped (including me). Physically they may also be statistical outliers, but they are my inspiration – not to emulate their achievements, but to recognise their ‘can do’ attitude and apply some of it to my own dreams. (I may come back and edit this paragraph to name the names and embarrass individuals…)
When I was at primary school I wanted to become the youngest person to swim the English Channel. The reality of a North London suburban childhood meant this was a dream that went unfulfilled. And when I investigated the logistics about ten years ago I discovered that, although I now had the resources to plan and train for a channel swim, I’d rather gone off the idea.
LEJOG was a distant thought in my mind. Gradually over the last year it has gone from something that ‘other people’ with amazing fitness and experience and reserves of awesomeness do, to something that is ‘way outside’ my capabilities to… hang on, I used to be a project manager. Now, remind myself, how do you eat an elephant*? And gradually the idea moved from the impossible fantasy to a planned possibility, and if it can be done, and doesn’t involve goose fat and oil slicks, then why not?
ABLE – Adventures Beyond Life Expectancy
Given that there’s not enough time in one life to do everything that interests me, or that catches my attention; given that there are adventures that have had to be left behind because there’s always a balance of needs – e.g. working close to home while my children were young… given all sorts of other reasons/excuses… there are still adventures beyond life expectancy – too many for a bucket list 🙂
I’d rather reach the end of my road knowing I’ve taken as many of the opportunities as I could, when I could. That includes building a home and a family and faith, caring for others as well as the different career stepping-stones. And it includes the occasional foray into the “She’s doing what?!” category. If only to show my grandchildren that the world is a wonderful place, that most people are kind and lovely, that even old people can have fun, and that dreams are worth pursuing.
Lose this day loitering—’twill be the same story
To-morrow–and the next more dilatory;
Then indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting o’er lost days.
Are you in earnest? seize this very minute–
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it,
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it,
Only engage, and then the mind grows heated—
Begin it, and the work will be completed!
*One slice at a time