I went out on the club’s Wednesday night paddle last week. It was a horrid day for outdoor activites: cold and drizzly with low hanging clouds sitting on all the surrounding hills, and I fought a serious motivational battle with my inner demons in order to convince myself to get out there on the water.
However, by the time we pushed off into the darkness, the night air had warmed a little, the seas had turned milky smooth and the dozen of us on the water were able to slip silently along the shoreline enjoying our own company and admiring the beauty of the city lights around us.
Despite my misgivings about heading out, by the time I had returned to shore I was buzzing and alive. I could barely recall the ‘me’ of three hours ago that didn’t want to go out for a paddle on such a day.
Back in my University days when I was a bit more career and financially motivated, I remember reading Noel Whittaker’s book “Making Money Made Simple” (a book I would still recommend to anyone who wishes to learn how to manage their finances). In this book, he pointed out that only 8% of people reach what they consider to be financial independence and happiness. From this he posits the question: Why would you follow the crowd, why would you do what the other 92% of people do when you know it will lead to unhappiness?. Young me thought this was a pretty good argument. So much so that I printed it out and kept it on my wall for many years.
I am sure of few things in my life, but I knew I wanted to be in that 8%, and I also knew I wanted to be around people who also wanted to be in that 8%.
I may have altered my definition of happiness in the intervening years, but I think I had eleven of these people with me on the paddle that night, and what’s more, I’ve been noticing these people everywhere lately. They’re the people you see doing today what others don’t.
I got a “Come save me” call from Bec. the other day when her derailer snapped off her bike on her ride home. In fact it was on the Wednesday night previous to my trip above – a night I had wimped out of going paddling because it was too cold, so instead I was sitting on my nice warm couch eating my dinner and watching TV (ironically an Ironman race).
Anyway, as I drove down to find her, I passed a girl out running, and I recall she had this big smile on her face and I remember thinking … if she can be out here, then why can’t I?
I went for a ride up to the Domain during my lunchbreak yesterday. It was a beautiful day and I wanted to do a reccy of Cath’s and my planned “100 (little) miles to Nowhere” route around the back of the domain before this weekends ride. After doing a few laps around the 2.5km circuit to test it out, I headed back down the Soldier’s Walk path and was amazed at how many walkers and runners were out there using their lunch break for exercise (not to type up a blog as I am doing now) … and I thought “Why aren’t I doing this more often?“
Just five hours later, after leaving work late, I walked out to my bike only to find I had a flat tyre. I guess I could have fixed it, but instead I figured it was late, it was cold and after glancing at my watch I realised if I ran I could get the next bus, otherwise it would be another hour before the next bus if I couldn’t fix my tyre … so I ran. I then sat in the bus and looked out at people running and riding their bikes down the sidewalks and thinking “If they can, why can’t I?“.
I guess where this is going, is that seeing all these other people out there doing these things has shone the spotlight back on me, and I realise that I’m not doing the things I need to do each day to be the person I want to be. That’s a harsh light to get caught in.
That’s why this morning, I set my alarm for 5.45am, and instead of catching the bus, I walked the eight kilometres into work.
I got to see the leaves coated in frost and ice, I got to watch the city step out from the pre-dawn darkness and embrace the sunrise, and most importantly for me, as I thawed my frozen skin under the shower at work I got to think “I can do this, I can“.