I am not sure at which point, if at any in life, that you ever feel constantly invincible.
I have been thinking about this a lot this week. As someone who wears their heart on their sleeve, I have never really stopped to think long enough before I open my mouth. This combined with a propensity for risk taking has led me to a lot of trouble in the past.
My mother, being more cautious, has always warned me that being so open, so accommodating and impulsive, can lead to heartache. She has been right. But try as I might, it is not my nature to keep people I genuinely like at arms length, to abstain from hobbies I love etc. Being cautious does not come naturally to me.
But being open and book like can leave any person vulnerable. And yet without it, how do we find the courage to ever make changes, to improve our lives, to be passionate about anything? Can we ever be courageous without walking the tightrope of vulnerability?
I am either all or I am nothing. Anyone who knows me, knows that this is just who I am. A believer that anything I choose to do should be done with an intense passion. Because, how can we achieve great things if we do not love what we are doing?
And so I have been thinking; that whilst being passionate and impulsive is a risky business, without it my life would have been very different. My memories less intense, less remarkable, less colourful and less varied. It is just who I am.
Its hard for me to apply myself to anything that I do not believe in, whether that be a friendship, a career, a hobby. If I cannot immerse myself and feel joy, it will just not work for me. And often it doesn’t and I walk away. Fully intact.
Today as I ran a half marathon somewhat slowly. I pondered about all of this and my terrible compulsion to always be better, to try harder and to want more. More of everything. But is more always better? At what point does an elixir become a poison? And what if more of something isn’t an option? For some people this is never an issue because they can be happy with ‘some’ but not all.
But what about me , I wondered as I tried to push myself today and my body didn’t respond. Can I be happy with something that doesn’t encompass everything I want? Can I still gain pleasure and be passionate about anything that won’t give me a sense of euphoria? Because in the end, that is is what risk taking is all about, the euphoria of achieving, the quenching of a passion so intense that sometimes nothing else matters.
Maybe, I just need to find the courage to tread that tight rope, open my heart and accept that this time it may all end in heartache and just as likely, it may not.. Letting go of expectations; now thats the hard part.
Half term and the pool has been overflowing with hundreds of small ( and also really rather large people). Luckily this hasn’t affected me as my designated pool is the boring one with the lane ropes, rather than the one with the slides and lazy river.
Monday saw me standing in a cubicle staring at my goggles and hat as I debated the absorbency of a sports bra and pair of running shorts. Should I swim and then miss my gym session due to a soaked kit or miss my swim…. I had forgotten a towel. I briefly considered using the giant walk in dryer after swimming but recalled it being as useful as standing under a shower, so the decision was made. No swim. This was despite various people making helpful suggestions including drying myself with a hair dryer after ( no – i didn’t have a pocket full of 20ps for the dryer), and using my knickers to dry myself ( I’m not sure how big they think my arse is….. but aside from that I would have to have had some with me).
Yesterday I ventured back to the pool to struggle along feeling as though I’d had the life sucked out of me. On the plus side I had remembered a towel and my underwear. Always a glutton for punishment , and with a bit more energy, I was back for third time today. I actually enjoyed my little splash up and down the pool before I amused myself on the watt bike listening to various podcasts and laughing at my phone. As you do. Or at least as I do. My hour of cycling passed super quickly, I barely noticed the numerous guys climbing onto the adjacent bike turning puce and getting off just as quickly as they’d hopped on. As they do.
In other news my youngest son celebrated his 12th birthday and I am collecting new glasses with a stronger prescription next week, both events confirming I need to stop pretending to be 24. I’m not sure anyone’s buying it, least of all me.
This weekend has been one of the busiest that I have had in a while, entertaining friends, having a cream pie splatted in my face, a birthday party, two sleepless nights and a face book stream full of seemingly intelligent people who intermittently lose their minds. The later is something that both amuses and irritates me.
Currently the Facebook spell of choice suggests that by changing your profile picture to your pet animal cruelty will be reduced. Now, either I am missing something here – perhaps the alignment of jupiter with the oak tree in my local park and the mobile chip van, every alternate Friday evening, that causes a cosmic energy field to make people believe face book is an imperial force of power, or people just don’t really think about what they are posting. Hmmm lets think about this…..
Social media is good. It has the power to connect people, to forge friendships ( some of my best friends were made via social media ), and yes to increase awareness of certain issues – when used correctly. But really, do you people who change your photos in response to these requests, make obscure status updates about kitchen doors and bags ( apparently to raise awareness of breast cancer) etc, really believe that what you are doing is actually making a difference? I am both baffled and amused.
Now forgive me for questioning your intelligence here, but don’t you think that if Facebook magic was this powerful we maybe should be asking people to ” copy and paste world peace” or change their pictures to the scales of justice in order to reduce corruption… Wouldn’t it be great to have a crime free world if all we had to do was change a Facebook profile picture from time to time? But wait, i hear you cry – don’t be so stupid, thats not how the world works.
I rest my case.
So anyway, 5 hours on my bikes this weekend, combined with a several pints of sweat, a pair of frozen feet and glimmer of hope has left me tired but happy. I begrudgingly dragged myself outside today, braving the biting cold rather than spending hours more sitting inside sweating on the turbo trainer, going no where fast. Although the air was crisp and my heated thermosoles decided to stop working (again) resulting in almost frostbite, it was the right choice. I had been wishing my youngest son and his two friends hadn’t been quite so energetic and vocal until so early into the morning. But I recall that being 12 and having your friends sleep over is all about not actually sleeping…… Feeling slightly jaded but knowing an afternoon with 8 12 year olds lay ahead I decided to get out side.
Just a couple of hours of fresh air, bimbling along the country lanes was so refreshing. Having worn practically every long sleeved cycling jersey I own served me well and aside from two blocks of ice for what were once functioning feet, I wasn’t too cold. I was freezing. On the plus side, I didn’t need an ice bath when I finished riding. And tomorrow is Monday. And it all starts again.
Habit, routine, repetition. The staples of a safe and non threatening daily routine. These are things that comfort me and give me stability. But my inner rebel is constantly fighting against the safe boundaries by which I restrict it.
I realised today that triathlon has kept my inner rebel quiet for some time. Too focused, too busy, too tired to want anything other than the routine it provided. And of course the distraction of the boundaries that were forever changing as I continued to push against them, just a little bit more, kept my blinkers firmly on. Achieving the challenges I would set myself was both humbling and exciting. It brought me much happiness and confidence and I fell in love with the ability of my body to constantly give me what I wanted.
Like any thing in life, things change, Relationships wax and wane, and the one i hold with the sport I love is no different. And of course when things are less exciting then they were, we begin to question whether we really still want them ; is there a bigger thrill somewhere else, or do we just need to ride this out until we turn the next corner?
Habit and routine are safe. Safe is nice, unthreatening and like an old warm jumper. But safe can get boring and boring does not hold my attention for long. I am torn between familiarity and the unknown. Sometimes a leap of faith (or a dash of mindless impulsivity), is all we need to find out the answer to the question; is there something better?
Currently I am not sure. But I am at least beginning to think about different possibilities, different challenges. An elderly, dear friend of mine once wisely told me:
” We women always need a challenge, whether it be cerebral, physical, emotional or practical, without one we are lost”.
I think about this often when I am either rejoicing or cringing over my colourful past and as I reflect, I realise she is right. An occupied mind is a peaceful one. And as I contemplate my future and what potentially stupid step I will next make, I take comfort in the fact that whatever I do, I will have a story tell.
You know you’re tired when you’re trying to call the optician using the calculator app on your phone and you’re wondering why the phones not working. Or maybe it just means I really do need the eye test. Pronto. Or a holiday.
I am thinking about holidays, doing nothing except for enjoying my children and discovering new places. But first a decision on where to go. A few people keep muttering to me that the UK really id beautiful. I concur. But I’m not keen on the wind, rain and unpredictability of it all. And whilst we are multicultural here in England, I don’t consider a trip to china town as being as exciting and memorable as a trip to the Wall of China. Not that I am planning on going to China, but you get the idea. And whilst the “English Riviera” sounds very nice, it doesn’t have quite the same appeal as it’s French counterpart.
So I am pondering, if I could go anywhere in the world, where would that be? It’s not something I find easy to answer to be honest. Sunshine is always a must. But aside from my desire to try top up my Vitamin D and explore some new places I don’t really know what I want. Which is pretty typical of me. I can tell you everything I don’t want, for sure. But ask me to make a decision given endless opportunities and I am fish like. Floundering.
This I have realised is becoming increasingly prevalent when I am faced with decisions that I actually give any thought to. I am very good at making impulsive choices with no real thought at all . In fact I am an expert. I have a PhD in impulsivity.. Act now, pay later type behaviour is ingrained in me. It has brought me a lot of joy, a bit of stress and also some ‘oh shit, why did I do that’ moments.
I don’t know why decision making is so hard. But genuinely I just really do no know what I want sometimes. “Decision making for dummies” has so far failed to provide any clues on how to get around this problem. The easy option, always, is to get someone else to make decisions. That way the stress of sorting through all of the options is removed and or course the added bonus is that if it’s the wrong decision, I would have someone to blame. Only it doesn’t ever work like that, because when things do go wrong I can’t help but wish I’d taken charge. So whilst I wait for a decisive clone of myself to be produced (preferably from circa 2005), I will try and get my inner fish to swim with purpose, away from the nets that threaten to trap me, towards calmer waters where hopefully I can bask in the sun.