Many years ago, when running became a ‘thing’ for me, I decided to try and raise funds for Brathay Trust through (in part) writing this blog.
As a joke (well, in part an attempt at one), as most things in my life tend to be I named it after a childhood chocolate bar. And still, I come back to the diary title repeatedly. For me, it has taken on greater significance; it can be interpreted in several ways; to me it represents a choice, a dilemma, two sides of the same coin and all that. Similar yet different, linked yet separate, a before and after. Offered simply, run or eat more chocolate. A chance to do something positive (output) or just consume (input).
After all the waffle, the point is that we are all made up of perceived successes and failures, we evolve, none of us are the same as we were a year ago, nor five, nor ten, things change. I’ll never understand why it was necessary to rebrand Marathons, Snickers – too young to understand and too naïve to care, after all these years though even that simple rebrand still ripples through my memory. I guess I’ll always struggle with my choices, decisions and intentions, just like, to a lesser or greater extent every human on the planet, perhaps?
I am the father of three individually, wonderful, caring, intelligent, talented and inspiring children (they are to me). All differing ages they fluctuate between care-free innocence, to simple, yet profound and insightful philosophers, to wilful, clear, determined (adult-like) individuals. The contrast was highlighted yesterday, our eldest was listening to a (Desert Island Discs) podcast featuring Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, who was recounting a story from his younger years. He retold the story of a farmer who marvelled at the wonder of modern veterinary medicine after a dog he had helped, had been fitted with a bionic leg. The farmer and Noel were watching the dog run around the field and in a whimsical, poetic, understated Irish lilt offered the sage comment ‘Everything is impossible until it happens.’ My son smiled, ‘wow’ that was cool and promptly grabbed a pen out of the central console of the car to write the saying on the back of his hand. Just 15 minutes later, we received the yin to this yang. At home both Boys were discussing and arguing about sayings and what they meant. Son 2 says to the Inspired Son 1, ‘I’m not sure what you are going on about, but I bet you’ve got hairy peanuts’. Son 1 silenced. Parent guffaws. Son 2 clearly impressed with himself. Daughter 'huh?'
Last weekend I went to pick up the children from the ex as is the arrangement. We knew each other for 13 years. As I stood at the front door, I could see through one side of her bay fronted window my daughter waiting whilst watching the tv. With the end of my index finger I tapped on the window to surprise my daughter who was engrossed in whatever she was watching. Not loud, not dramatic, not long and accompanied with a big smile and wave. My daughter jumped up excitedly and announced (as I heard) that I was 'here'. I returned to the car to open the doors for the children. As my daughter clambered in she said to me, 'Mum says you are not to tap on the window.' No explanation, her command delivered. Now, I may be wrong but my understanding for children of separated parents is that they should never feel like they are 'in the middle' nor should they ever be used like Hermes. Admittedly, I am fearful of my ex; I'm intimidated by her professional success, her beauty, her intelligence, the balance in her character, added to which she has the upper-hand as I was the selfish idiot in the relationship. In part I've forgiven myself, so to an extent I'm trying to write this as a matter of fact, rather than in a self-pitying way, although I might re-read this in a month or two time and decide differently but this is what it is now.
What to do with the message delivered by my daughter? Well I thought, I'd resolve to speak as a reasonable adult and apologise for any offence caused. At the very least I'm demonstrating to our children I can be civil to their Mum. So, with the intention of asking not to use the children as mini winged messengers, I knocked on the door, very deliberately and calmly. No reply. I waited a minute or two, just in case maybe the knock hadn't been heard. Knock again. No reply. A last resort, let's text. The message I sent was intended to be sincere, apologetic yet direct. The reply received was to tell me to stop being 'weird'. That tapping on the window made her feel uncomfortable. If I place myself in her shoes, I hopefully understand that she should feel safe and secure in her home and I get that a stranger tapping on the window in some Pennywise like way in the dark would be eerie but at 10am? I'm no stranger, or maybe I've missed the point and now technically that's exactly what I am? Her text continued to ask me to 'stop doing inappropriate things'. What like blogging about private texts and how they label me weird? I'm therefore going to try to be as normal as possible. Any advice anyone? What are the characteristics of normal?
As part of my recovery to become 'normal', I'll contemplate these important aspects of life from 6pm on Friday evening onwards whilst I endeavour to trudge a little over a century of miles as part of the Montane Lakeland 100. I definitely am weird, but at the finish line on Saturday night or Sunday morning, I pray to experience not only a miraculous finish but God-willing a sense of accomplishment. How wonderful?