Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Is Life Art?

Have you ever sat next to a pond and watched ducks?
A nice Summers day. It's warm. The sun's shining. The water looks so still and inviting. Some of the ducks are laid on the floor, head tucked under their wings. Some are in a similar position, but standing on one leg. Are they awake or asleep? Why don't they stand on two legs?
Some are swimming, some walking, some flying.
Have you ever sat next to a pond and watched ducks, and thought, ' I wish my life was like that. I wish my life was that simple?'
I have.
I used to live next to some duck ponds.
I did it alot.


I'm sat at home. The tele's got the radio on. I really can't do with that daytime shit today, rather listen to Radio 5. I'm not very well. Cold. And I'm not supposed to be writing this. I'm supposed to be applying for jobs. Jobs that I don't want. Jobs which I will never take. Playing the system. Ticking the boxes that keep people happy and make it possible to get a few quid off the state. A few quid that I don't need, but a few quid that I'll take anyway. Thanks very much.

The woman looks at my C.V. Maybe shes alittle surprised. Maybe not. The qualifications are there. No doubt, alot better than hers. The work history is terrible. A catalogue of Mcjobs and self employment. Evidence of an education wasted. She asks me what sort of work I am willing to do. ' Ought,' I reply. 'Not bothered.'
'Would you consider working 16 hours a week?' she says.
'Would I still get dole?' I reply.
' No, you would still qualify for housing benefit. You would be better off. Your wage would be about £90 a week'
'Are you fucking mad!' I think. ' I'm getting £70 a week now for nothing. You seriously expect me to work 16 hours for £20?'
'Yes,' I reply. ' I  will consider anything.'


http://salebyjoggingcentre.blogspot.com/2012/01/story-of-creation.html   This post made me think. Life is about creating, but life is also a creation. Perhaps the greatest creation. The opportunity must not be wasted.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Emergence of 'SLOW'.

Three or four years ago came an idea which rocked the running shoe manufacturers to the core- the proposition that running in barefeet was good for you and running shoes actually bad for you. The gear manufacturers responded, lowering heel differentials,telling gullible consumers about the benefits of shoes which allowed you to run as if you had no shoes on. New advertising campaigns were designed, damage to profits minimised. The wind of change continues to blow. However this particular paradigm shift is one that threatens the profits of the watch makers, the race organisers and maybe the existence of competitive running per se............The emergence of 'Slow'.

Other outdoor activities seemed to get it from the start.

 The surfing scene in the 60;s and 70's,shunning competition and chasing beautiful waves and heavenly locations. They got it.

The Yosemite climbing scene at the same time. They got it.
Chongo, in between smoking weed, holding court at the corner table in the Lodge cafeteria, and discussing quantum theory, liked to climb the big walls. Slowly.
In 1970 Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell spent 29 days on the face of El Cap, putting up the route ' Wall of Early Morning Light.'
In 1981 Richard Jensen and Mark Smith spent 39 days on El cap to establish the route 'Wings of Steel.'
They got it.

Last year I gave thought to running the Spanish pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago. I talked to walkers, looked on the Camino forum and the response was the same, 'Why run it?' Instead of taking 10 days of slog and toil, why not take 30 and enjoy it? They got it.

And times are a changing in my particular love,running. The move towards slowness is quickening. Times are becoming irrelevant. Racing a waste of time. News has reached me of two 'slow' challenges guaranteed to prick up a few years. Two iconic routes under attack by the non fleet of foot.
 The first is in the peak district, and will be carried out by a friend of mine,and vanguard of  'The East Lincs Slow Movement.' The fifteen trigs is a well known fell challenge devised by our friends from the Dark Peak. The Fifteen Trigs in Fifteen Days is a test of stamina and courage. Will our friend make it from one trig to the next in one day? Only time will tell.

Tortoise. He got it.

The Endless Summer Gang. They got it.

Chongo on the slackline. He got it.

Enough wine for 29 days?

The Wings of Steel Boys.

The second challenge is a biggy. Some say impossible. The 42 day Bob Graham round. Peak out/ camp, peak out/camp, peak out/camp....42 times. One thing for sure- if its successful, and that's a slim if, the public will definitely notice the emergence of  'SLOW.'

Don't forget: ENJOY
                   THINK BIG
                    ...................THINK SLOW!

Monday, 2 January 2012

A Morning Walk


The view was always one to savour. It was one that I had seen many times. I had grown up here, spent childhood years playing on the caravan site which was my home, messing around on the beach, swimming in the sea. Even so, as I rounded the point to see the a high tide pushing onto the vast expanse of beach, it was still special. I decided as soon as I drew back the curtains, welcoming in the light of the new day, that I needed to get out. Normally I would decide to run, but that could wait till later, to bring routine to a quiet evening. This morning I fancied a walk.

I made in the direction of Skegness, without haste or idea of final destination. The day was glorious- clear blue skies, a brilliant sun, combined with the chill of a perfect winters morning. My girlfriend had given me a camera for Christmas. I'd take a few pictures, head to the cafe at Winthorpe, have a brew and walk back. I've always walked alot, but mostly as a mode of transport, rather than as a source of enjoyment. Things were slowly changing though, and now walking, especially in the countryside, was starting to appeal to me nearly as much as running. Instrumental in this change of mindset was Satish Kumar.

At the age of nine Satish became a member of travelling Jain monks,practising the doctrine of ahimsa-'Do no harm to living things.' At 18 he became a follower of  Gandi, and then after Gandi's death, joined a social movement led by Vinoba Bhave, Gandi's foremost disciple. It was in his twenties that Satish realised the spiritual significance of 'walking.' In the late 1960's Satish and a friend began their 'pilgrimage for peace.' Inspired by the philosopher, Bertrand Russell and his campaigning work against the nuclear threat. the 'pilgrimage for peace' took the form of  a 8000 mile journey from India through Russia and Europe to America, all on foot. The two men would spread the word of peace, extol the virtues of vegetarianism and carry no money.

My favourite story involving Satish comes in the form of a chance encounter as Satish and his friend were climbing the Khyber Pass. A car passed the pair and came to a halt. The driver reversed and sensing they may be in difficulty offered the two men a lift. Satish politely declined the offer and stated, ' No thankyou. We're walking.'
'Walking to where?' asked the driver.
'To the United States of America.' stated Satish.
The driver then stated that he was from the USA,and after giving Satish and his friend his address, bade farewell. A couple of years later Satish called the man, reminded him of his chance encounter with those two crazy men in Pakistan who were walking round the world. Well those two crazy men were now in America and , as promised. were coming to pay him a visit!

Satish now resides in Hartland, a village in Dorset. He is Programme Director at Schumacher College, the acclaimed institution specialising in 'green' initiatives and alternative thinking, and editor of the famous bi-monthly magazine,Resurgence. From reports I have read the special thing about Satish are his personal attributes. He shows no emotional signs of rancour, enmity or resentment- all negative emotions that plague me and most people I know. It is this that I aspire to.


As I ran over the fields this evening, my path only illuminated by my headtorch, I once again thought of Satish. A person dear to my heart, when asked by myself what my writings on this blog told her about me, replied, ' Someone who's searching.' The more I've mulled this over this last few days, the more I agree. While others accept, I question. Opinion and confrontation have been, are still are,to some extent my friends. But this is not something I welcome or accept. I am searching, and the search is for inner peace, something that Satish seems to have found. This last year may not have been productive in terms of material gain, but has been productive in the journey to peace. I realise that the path is still long and winding, but progress has been made. Relationships have been repaired and one special person has taught me, not only to love, but to accept love. The path goes on. The walk continues.