Earlier today I had to make the decision to to call some time out. I received an email about the young girl in Africa I mentioned yesterday who has cancer, and I just folded up on a chair in my apartment and cried my eye's out. I realised then that I was on overload and there was tomorrow to deal with everything else and this evening to find a way to reboot. Being me it is very hard to just drift off in to a daze but at the same time I didn't want to start devouring articles in various publications. I then realised that I had put down Chrissie Wellingtons " A life without Limits" last week at page 135. I dug it out from under a groaning bedside table of reading material and I will say right now that I am sitting up in bed awash with two pots of Tetley tea in my tummy having devoured the rest of her book from p. 135 - 277 with only breaks to boil the kettle. To say I feel revived and rebooted is an understatement.
Chrissie's book has provided for me a whole range of things, it's not possible to really describe them all. I expected to be dazzled and inspired by her sporting achievements in Iron man Triathlon, this route march that has captured my spirit and imagination as no other event ever has, but I didn't expect to share with her a cultural background of childhood similar experience and teenage years spent growing up in England during the same era. I have never read an account of someone who has so inspired me but yet has also shared with me some common threads of life experience. It has meant that her book has both dazzled me and yet comforted me and filled me with nostalgia all at the same time. So that aspect has been an unexpected lovely surprise.
Chrissie's account of her quite unimaginable achievements are made even more appealing by her constant admittance of being very human in how she feels inside as she struggles with herself and experiences all that makes us vulnerable as people as well as the potential we all possess. This is definitely one of the the main reasons her book is so uplifting. To read about someone who shares their triumphs whilst inhabiting a very human mind and body that has the ability at times to let her down whilst she grapples with hope, determination, fear , injury ,illness plus frailty of spirit that makes up a whole person. There is nothing one dimensional about Chrissie Wellington and she is not afraid to lay that out bare, in the same way she is not afraid to leave every part of herself physically on those long roads of the Iron man race.
I identify with that fully, as someone who experiences huge lows and highs I find it easier to accept myself more and my inability to be endlessly positive and grateful even though I should when someone else tells their story of what can be their struggle with life and themselves at times. I am grateful to her and people like her who can be very honest about the complexity of human nature. I think there are no mistakes in how our path unfolds if we are open and willing to take risks. As I said yesterday what keeps me moving forward now are the constant stories of others who are willing to step up and rise to the challenges of life and accept come what may and especially just keep on moving forward against all the odds, and even more unbelievably just keep on desiring to give back in the process.
At the end of Chrissie's book these are her words
"...but neither have I ever wanted to be left wondering, " What if..? To my amazement, at so many stages along the way, the limits that I thought I could see in the distance dissolved as I approached them. They turned out not to be real at all, but mere assumptions.And that has been the most exciting revelation of all."
We can shock ourselves completely if we have the courage to try and not ever leave ourselves wondering what if? There are also those like the young girl in Africa with cancer who will never stand at that crossroads of life and have the gift of that choice to make, but we can carry them either in spirit or even as Jim hoight literally does as he puts his son on his back and Carry's him through endurance races because he can.
Chrissie includes this quote as well...
" If you cant fly, run; if you cant run, walk;
If you cant walk, crawl.
Martin Luther King