Friday, 31 July 2009
In order for the admissions staff of our college to get to know you, the applicant, better, we ask that you answer the following question: Are there any significant experiences you have had, or accomplishments you have realized, that have helped to define you as a person?
I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice.
I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently.
Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row. I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes.
I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru. Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries.
When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge. I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie.
Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a travelling centrifugal-force demonstration.
I bat 400.
My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me. I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy.
I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening.
I know that exact location of every food item in supermarkets. I have performed several covert operations with the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair.
While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me. I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid.
On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin.
I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
I went off on holiday for a fortnight the week after the WHW race and had planned on writing a full account of my family's exploits navigating a 23 foot camper van around the North of Scotland but on my first day back at work, I received an email telling me of the tragic death of Dario Melaragni whilst on a training run with friends around Lochnagar.
I didn't know Dario well and my only contact with him was as a participant in the West Highland Way Race which he organised for the last 10 years. What was clear was his endless enthusiasm and love for what he did and his encouragement and concern for the wellbeing and success of all the runners he came into contact with. Other people who knew him much better have written some very touching and heartfelt comments and reading through them all has confirmed his position as the ""Father" of the West Highland Way Family. He will be sorely missed.
Eve is down visiting her parents with the kids for a few days just now and so I have been left to fend for myself (and the cat). It has meant that during this brief spell of solitude, I have had time to reflect on recent events and to how the death of someone you know with still so much to give can have an impact on your own perspective. I had planned a weekend camping trip on my bike last weekend and spending 14 hours pedalling away gives you the opportunity for a lot of thinking time
I've long been an advocate of the "seize the day" school of thought. It is easy to spend time sitting around talking about things you would like to do or places you would like to go and for many people, this is a far as it gets. The next time you hear yourself saying "one day, I'd like to........." why not make that "one day" tomorrow? To live your life and look back and say, "if only I'd done this" or "if only I'd done that" is a life unlived. What is painfully clear from recent sad events is that you never know what is round the corner and when your time will come so don't sit back and think, "maybe next year". We all have plans and dreams and it is times like this that give me the impetus to bring these to the fore and start to make them a reality.
I lost another good friend to cancer at Christmas last year. She was only 40 and left behind a husband and two small children. Her death and Dario's have had a profound affect on me. Perhaps more so than elderly relatives who have passed away who, although closer in relationship terms, had lived a full and active life. To have all of your dreams and possibilities wiped out when you had so much more to give is tragic indeed.
I have spoken many times before on this blog of "enjoying the journey". In an ultra, if you keep going, persevere and endure you will reach your destination but the key is to enjoy the journey on the way there. In life, we all have a cast iron guarantee of reaching our destination so I for one fully intend to enjoy the journey.
Rest in Peace Dario and Jo.