I wrote about Fear and what stops us living adventurously in yesterday’s email newsletter (what do you mean you don’t subscribe?! You should.)
This morning I received this fabulous email from a 63-year old lady called Lynda. She has given me permission to share it, as I am often aware that being a male, white, middle-aged, middle-class, straight, able-bodied adventurer doesn’t exactly help me connect with a broad demographic…
I watched your blog about people being afraid and I think there is a lot of truth in what you say. I was at a talk you gave a few years ago. I have read Jose Dew’s books and Dervla Murphy too and I am amazed at their guts and strength.
I have only cycled a few days here and there in Northern Ireland, southern Ireland, Scotland and England and a bit in Holland. When I tell people I have cycled, even for half a day, they gasp in amazement. To me it is rather ordinary and that is because I am used to it. Others think it is extraordinary, daring, brave or, foolish. Not safe, might get robbed, on your own is being vulnerable. I don’t know what they are worried about.
And yes, definitely do things when you can because there will come a time when you can’t. In 2012 I did two triathlons for the first time – came last and almost last but didn’t care. At last I had got round to it. I was 57. In 2014 I cycled 300 miles in Yorkshire ahead of the Tour de France. Two years later I had an operation in my leg for bone cancer and now have a titanium femur. I will never be able to run again and am still learning to walk properly but I can cycle on the flat and can row. I am so glad I did what I did. I have cycled thousands of miles and loved every day.
I notice that people are very fearful. They worry about what people will think. For me, I just don’t care. One day I was with a group of cyclists and we were coming into Belfast on a busy road and heavy hailstones started to fall. We stopped to put waterproofs on and some of us put plastic bags over our shoes to keep dry. We passed by a couple of young lads at a bus stop and as we went by they said “You sad bastards!” We did look a right motley crew but I laughed. I really didn’t care – I had cycled 55 miles that day in gorgeous countryside with lovely friends – they hadn’t done that. Why should I worry about what some total stranger should say? Why should I worry about what a friend would say?
I think there is a lot of ENVY, evidenced when people put you down when you have achieved something. Envy comes in many forms. (Envy, not jealousy.) You have done something that someone else wishes they had the guts to do but haven’t. and so you get mocked and criticised. The people who laugh at you feel weak and insipid and boring in comparison and so they have to make fun of you. I have noticed this many times, especially for women. I was told by a friend that someone thought I was a lesbian because I did lots of exercises. Women are afraid that they are going to look masculine if they do anything physical. Of course they are not. Or that by being ‘physical’, it will be unattractive to a man or be intimidating to a man. Let’s face it, many men are not very physical. After a very strenuous bike ride of 200 miles in 2 days, I was asked “Well Lynda, have you achieved anything?”
I read Ellen McArthur’s book and am astonished at her fortitude and determination. It is very rare for someone to go to such lengths to achieve their goal. It’s like there are push and pull factors. Things that make you want to do something and things that hold you back and how much something makes you want to fight on or draws the strength out of you. The Tour de France cyclists have professional top-of-the-range physiotherapists, psychologists, doctors, masseurs, you name it, anything and everything needed to get there and do their best. Most of us don’t have that, don’t even know that we need it or could use it. No idea what holds us back, mentally or physically. Not challenged, don’t want to be challenged. Fear of unknown, looking stupid, failure, hurt, rejection, other people, strange places, discomfort, missing familiarity etc.
I think what you are doing to encourage people to be more adventurous is excellent.