Earlier this year, as part of my Grand Adventures series, I asked climber Andy Kirkpatrick some questions. On the back of this, climber/writer/mum Menna Pritchard wrote a post on her blog. I thought that it was a fantastic analysis of the things that stop us having the adventures we yearn for and, perhaps, keep us from living the life we aspire to live. It’s also helpful for reminding us where our true priorities should probably lie.
It focuses on one of the things I frequently write about: whether the barriers that get in our way are actually the things that are stopping us, or whether perhaps they are just excuses…
Car journeys provide great opportunities for conversations. And travelling all over the UK on a stay-cation this summer holiday provided plenty of opportunities for them (along with the usual arguments between restless kids who’d rather not be stuck in the back of a tiny car on a sunny day).
For one of the car rides, it just so happened that I had a “somebody” in the car with me. An individual who is well-known and well-loved… when he speaks people listen, they respond and they connect.
Over the years I’ve come to know a few people who are famous within their field and people care about what they have to say about things. It’s a privilege to be a part of that experience sometimes. Maybe I’m like Penny Lane in Almost Famous, when asked if she has any ‘normal’ friends, responds – “famous people are just more interesting!”.
But in my experience, this isn’t the case – in fact often it’s completely the opposite. More complex maybe, but rarely more interesting. But the trouble with not being a ‘somebody’ is that it often feels like no one cares much for your thoughts or opinions on things, you don’t have the platform or the audience. Some of my closest and dearest friends are quiet, humble, unique, wonderful, intelligent people who will never get the recognition they deserve. But neither do they need it or seek it.
Back in the car my somebody is busy trying to answer a never-ending stream of calls, emails and interviews whilst also trying to give his kids the “best summer ever”. No easy feat when your inbox demands as much attention as your offspring.
I ask about the questions he’s being asked while the kids are busy reading and drawing in the back.
“Here’s one…” he says, glancing up from his iPad for a second,
No, I say, they’re not the reasons, they’re the excuses.
Because aren’t they? I really believe that if you want something enough then you will find the time, scrape together the money, and overcome your fears… But it’s all about priorities. And I know because I’m completely guilty of it myself.
Ever since I became a mum, I have used it as an excuse. An excuse for not having the adventures my heart desires, an excuse for not having the figure I want, an excuse for missing a deadline, being broke, being tired… But the reality is that my daughter is not the reason for any of those things – I am.
There comes a time when we have to say to ourselves – stop making excuses. That if something means so much to us then it’s worth working towards, it’s worth fighting for – and dammit, it’s worth the struggle. And this is true of everything from having an adventure to relationships.
Because I don’t want life to be about the battles I never fought, the barriers I never overcame, the excuses I made.
It’s been a while since that conversation in the car, and I’m still working on where I place my priorities. But through the blur and struggle of what has been a traumatic couple of weeks I think I’m finally starting to get them in order…
I have a choice where I invest my energy, and it’s not into making excuses. It’s into fighting for things I truly believe in. It’s into making sh*t happen. It’s into showing kindness. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how many adventures I go on, or how many mountains I climb this year, how high they are, or how hard they are. It matters more that I act with integrity and compassion to the people in my life who are struggling up their own ‘mountains’.
When I get to the end of my life and I ask one final question… What have I done?
Let my answer be… I have done love.
My new book, Grand Adventures, is out now.
It’s designed to help you dream big, plan quick, then go explore.
The book contains interviews and expertise from around 100 adventurers, plus masses of great photos to get you excited.
I would be extremely grateful if you bought a copy here today!
Thank you so much!