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navel-gazing, or the art of being a better me

People have a varying degree of impact on you as you interact and get to know them, and they each give you something that lasts with, good, bad, or both. E has given me a love of goat's milk and running, the Girl an appreciation of the quirky and an almost OCD-like attention to detail in certain aspects of my life, Hoo the gift of friendship and a shared uncompromising ability to insult each other, the Flatmate an appreciation of the seeking of knowledge for knowledge's sake and J, E and P a deeper understanding and relationship with music and walking respectively. The list goes on, with gifts both deep and silly, both painful and enlightening, joyful and thought-provoking. All have given me their friendship and more. A couple of years ago (or so) I was guest and photographer at H and M's wedding, and M, with his meticulous preparation and attention to detail had prepared a set of notes on the more notable guests. These consisted of one or two lines which, for the most part, accurately and concisely summed up that person.

Mine was something along the lines of "Jose: Always has lots of plans, doesn't achieve any of them."

As an observation it was brutal, sharp and uncompromising, no matter what the original intent had been. And it bloody hurt.

After a little while, and a lot of thought, I also realised (actually, I had already realised, a better word would be 'accepted') that it was also brutally, sharply and uncompromisingly accurate.

I wasn't achieving anything. And hadn't done for such a long time. And that is why it hurt. Yes, I had achieved stuff in work, and the odd thing out in the real world, but in terms of personal ambitions, dreams and goals... nada. Hopeless.

I was getting (or already was) fat. I couldn't do a lot of stuff, simply walking any distance was painful. All the other stuff fell by the wayside, abandoned for one reason or another. I was in a rut, and not doing very well at it either.

For me that was a turning point, and it took a long time getting there, and a long time getting to where I am now. I am still rubbish at a number of things, but I am trying to pick them off as and when I can, a progression towards a better, happier, more fulfilled me, rather than trying to do it all at once and failing miserably.

If you had told me three years ago that I would get up this morning and run 8 miles comfortably and enjoy it, having run the Cardiff Half four weeks previously, I wouldn't have believed you.If you had said I would lose 3.5 stone in 22 months, I wouldn't have believed you. If you had said I would complete NaNoWriMo last year, with fifty thousand hard fought words in the bag, I wouldn't have believed you. If you had said I would, on several occasions, walk into a room full of complete strangers, who would judge me against something very important and personal, and come out of each stronger, wiser and content, I wouldn't have believed you.

There are still many things I want to do, many things I need to get better at. I am poor at so much but I know what they are, and how to improve at them.

People influence and teach us, and it is not so much the lessons that we take away, but that we take away the right ones that matters. We are given much, from the mundane to the ridiculous, from the painful to the life-changing. Sometimes the lessons are an accumulation of those from many people, sometimes they pivot on a single moment. Each is an opportunity to learn, to think, to reassess and to change, as necessary.

So, from M and H I received a kick up the ass when I needed it, and the ongoing and gentle friendship that has both taken the sting from it and very much helped me along my way.

And I couldn't ask for more.

the sunday long run

...and furthermore...