When I was young, I wanted desperately to have a normal life.
My dad had committed suicide, and I wanted to be like all the other kids in school, who had no idea how fragile and terribly sad life could be. A week out from the 19th anniversary of his death I think about what I really want from life.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
What Sir Roosevelt says is true, and I no longer regret anything that happened to me because it’s part of who I am.
What makes a person strong? What makes a person inspiring? The strongest person I know in the world, is my mum. Not just because of who she is but because of who she enabled me to be.
She would tell me that I could do anything I put my mind too, and I grew up believing that.
I am told very often that I am lucky…Lucky to live overseas, lucky to have found such a talented horse, lucky to have a mum who shares my dream with me.
Luck has nothing to do with it.
One of my memories growing up was watching Australian swimmer Kieren Perkins win gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
I’m not particularly interested in swimming, but he entered the final after a pathetic qualifying heat, and the nation had deemed him a “has been” who could not possibly, and statistically, win gold from lane 8 (the slowest lane).
I remember the moment when he won. A true champion. No-one said “wow he was lucky”.
He wanted it more than the others.
Truth is I was never a really talented dressage rider. I just wanted to chase the cattle and go really fast out of control behind whatever ran out in front of me.
But I was fearless. I now have fear, because I know better. Falling off hurts.
People who saw me riding Batialo when I first started with him as a 4 year old would tell you that they thought I was crazy. I was. But I wanted a top horse, I wanted to compete internationally, and the desire for what I wanted was far greater than the fear that I might get hurt.
People don’t have dreams or goals necessarily to win. Most of the time it’s to test themselves, to prove to themselves that they can go after something, to give them a reason to wake up in the morning, and to sleep well at night.
The people that I admire the least in the world, are those that tell other people their dreams are stupid. What gives someone the right to make that sort of judgement. I’m sure Mr Perkins didn’t listen when people told him he was too old to win another gold medal.
We always hear the phrase “never give up”, and think “oh sure, yep nice line”. It’s true though. Sometimes of course you need to adjust your dream, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying.
I don’t even understand the term “normal life” anymore, and I certainly don’t wish for it.
Just when you think you have learnt what you need to learn, something new comes along to change the entire way you looked at it.
If I think of myself ten years ago I honestly never imagined I would be this happy. There was a point when I had no reason to get up in the morning, but I got up because I couldn’t do to mum what dad did to us. That was my thought, “keep going for my mum”. Now I hate to wake up late because I might miss something, and I truly love every part of me.
I guess I wish my dad knew that hitting rock bottom is just the starting point on the way to something wonderful 😉
I started pilates recently and if you knew me a year ago you would say it was impossible for me to do pilates.
In the first session I quite literally got a headache, because the instructor kept telling me to breathe slowly, and my mind was racing at 100 miles an hour (my usual pace) and I wanted to complete the series in under 30 seconds and get out of there. It’s like those meditation tapes that tell you to clear your mind, and next minute you are mapping out your ten month plan with Zen music playing faintly in the background.
Now I love pilates. It’s relaxing. And my mind is actually much calmer and slower in everything else that I do, which helps a lot in my riding, because my horse isn’t picking up on my “a million thoughts an hour” brain speed.
If you don’t have a dream you don’t need to go out and run a marathon. But if you do have something you want to do it’s not worth looking back and saying I wish I had tried. It might be that trip you wanted to go on, or the job you wanted to pursue, or the person you wanted to tell that thing you have always thought but never said…
Just do it.
Yes, now your mind is sprouting all the millions of reasons why you can’t do it…
I still say… “just do it!”
Finally if you do do it, just enjoy it. I was at a dinner recently and the woman next to me didn’t want to eat her petit gateau so I ate hers as well.
She turned to me and said “aren’t you worried about having a stomach ache in the morning”, and I replied that if I get hit by a bus on the way home I will regret far more not enjoying the second petit gateau.
“There will be more petit gateau’s” was what she was thinking…but reality is there just might not be.
It’s fine not to do anything with your life if that’s what you want, but if you decide to do something, just make sure you use everything you’ve got to do it.