Sunday 23 October 2011

Decisions, decisions

It's the impact I'm most interested in when it comes to decisions. On me. On those around me. On my time. On their time.

There have been lots of decisions to make recently about my life and our life. Even when you need to make a personal decision, you are a fool if you don't consider the nearest and dearest. If you share your life with someone, there is no need to include them in the decision over what to have on your toast. But leave them out of other stuff (job, money, health, travel) and your decisions, while very much your own, have an unkempt feel about them.

I know this because I have tried doing it. It came back, bit me right on the arse and I have learnt, that even decisions deemed to be solely yours, have consequences beyond your mental meandering.

Some decisions right now are becoming bolder in my everyday landscape. Some months ago, my friend Maria and I decided to sign up for Cruce de los Andes, a 3-day 100km race through the Andes mountains from Chile to Argentina. It was something that, after our first marathon together, we had set our hearts on. The decision wasn't a difficult one, but it was important that I made it with her. There is no one else I can do this with. No one else who gets me and the importance of this adventure. There is no one else I would, even, do it with and it was a 'now or never' decision that neither of us, I believe, will live to regret.

The race will take place in February. Mentally, it started back with the booking and physically it started once my leg had recovered. Today I ran my first 10km in 8 months and all the while I was thinking about the decision to do this challenge and how it will impact on life from now on; dark nights through the winter, training talk, nutrition and long distance support with Maria, and saying no to things when there are stairs to climb or hills to run.

Another major recent decision has been about my work, and this has really taught me the value of making decisions with those around you. The implications of my doing this or that on our rather topsy-turvy life at the moment is one I had to include. And the basis of the decision was one we both shared: happiness and sanity. As Martín will have decisions to make in the coming months after he flies past interview after interview, so it will be that I help him and consider those important things that aren't just counted in euros or pounds. If not, the decisions become illogical. I can't think of a position and paycheck without thinking about place and person.

I've always found it easy to make decisions and have usually been confident enough to run with them and 'see what happens'. Having consulted more, however, I have a feeling that the ones I have made recently will bear a lot more fruit because my tree is so much more grounded with supporting roots.

I can bend with the wind, but I bounce back.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Up where we don't belong

When I was 11, I wanted to be a pilot. It stayed with me for two years, until I realised I was much better at writing than physics; at talking than flying.

And now, I sit on my couch and watch the new British Airways advert. Goosebumps crawl across my arms. What would it have been like to fly with the wind in your hair? How would it have been training to lift all those tonnes off the ground and into the air? Could I really have become a captain?

I watch that advert and its romance makes me hold my breath. The first time I saw it, I was entranced. From the first scene of the man in that open-topped flying machine, I said to myself, Please be British Airways.

The magic of flying has never left me. It's not just that scientists never really understood how planes got in the air until relatively recently; or how they design those trays of food so everything fits within inches; or the walk of the crew as they stride along with their smart suitcases, imaculate and self-assured.

It's the possibility of the impossible. National Geopgraphic recently ran a front cover, Can we fly? The dream will never go away.

I am fortunate enough to have a recurring dream about flying. It comes round about once every year, and it's exactly the same as the first time I dreamt it around the age of seven. I am flying over the estate I used to live on. It's a sunny day and I simply swoop over all the little pacthes of garden and cottages. It's exhilarating.

However, we came from the sea. Some 3.8 billion years ago life began there. Many of us live on islands. We are surrounded. The need to swim is therefore great. I couldn't imagine a life without seeing water, especially the ocean, and want to get wet. It pulses through our bodies, our cells.

And yet; that British Airways advert fills me with the nostalgia of flight. It was even the subject of my first prize winning poem when I was eight (see below).

But we don't belong there. I must keep my feet firmly on the ground. I will never be a British Airways captain.

I'll just keep dreaming.


One night I was dreaming
I was flying like a concorde.
I could touch the clouds.
I could see the lord.

I said, "Could you pinch me
To see if I'm flying?"
The lord said, "You're dreaming."
I said, "But I'm trying."

"Trying what?" said the lord.
"I'm trying to fly," I said.
When all of a suddent as if by magic
I woke up in my bed.

To view the British Airways advert see:

Picture credit: Nic Morrish