There’s nothing like an incentive to do something.
I couldn’t help laughing when I visited a pub today – and sitting in the urinal was a green splash guard with a tiny goal and a little plastic football. It was an amusing and diverting way to make sure that clients who may be a little worse for wear focus on the task at hand.
(picture on my Instagram – I won’t inflict this on my delicate blog readership!)
I was there for a brief half way sit down and a pint of Diet Pepsi in the of middle a humid and sticky walk along the Greenway from Kenilworth to Balsall Common and back.
As I twalked with my companion I reflected that this heat was not something I’d have stepped out into a couple of years ago. I’d have stayed indoors and not gone anywhere for fear of looking sweaty and out of place.
If I had today then I wouldn’t have heard all of the birdsong, seen all of the lovely views and talked about all the things I did.
It’s often difficult to find motivation though. Sometimes you need a LOT more than a tiny plastic goal in a toilet. I’ve learned the hard way that doing something because someone else wants you to often fosters nothing but resentment and turns them into your jailer.
The only sure way to know you’re going to follow through with a commitment is to really want change.
It’s all very well to feel dissatisfied with your lot in life. It’s even easier to complain about it – but what does it take to make it so disagreeable that the status quo can no longer be tolerated and you finally get up and do something?
It’s not a question I can answer. Not for other people anyway. Their snapping or breaking point will probably be very different to my own.
I started thinking about this initially after yesterday’s Slimming World meeting – and considering why so many times in the past I’ve failed, lost my way – or ignored the truth about my health.
I know what the precise event was that began to change my perspective – but why (in that particular moment) I was open and receptive enough to switch my focus – and what gives me the determination to carry on day after day with the same mindset is something that I would have to say I still can’t fully explain.
As I walked today I discussed with my friend aspects of my last major relationship (which is a long time in the past but I’ve never truly let it go) and the regrets I still have about changes that I needed to make but never wanted to make and ultimately did not make.
I was discussing the pointlessness of hiding things from partners – and had to confess that I hid the truth of who I really was all the time when I was with my ex. I smoked in secret, drank when she went to visit family, ate extra meals and lied about it – and made being cared about not just difficult but turned it at times into a pitched battle of wills.
At times I’m outrageously angry with myself that someone that I dearly loved was pushed away from me partially because of my inability to be a different person.
As I look at old photos of who I was then I’m also filled with sadness as I recall what I did and the stupid games I played whilst eating mints and pretending my cigarette lighter belonged to a friend. I may be smiling in the picture but I know now I was starting to flush everything away.
I see someone much thinner than the man I became but already very unfit. I see his potential being completely wasted. I know that he wouldn’t really emerge from his downward spiral (at least not properly) for two decades.
The man I am now (both physically and emotionally) is probably the one I needed to be for someone that I deeply loved years ago – but that I couldn’t be at the time.
It’s incredibly frustrating.
However – there’s paradox here – because I wouldn’t be who I am now if I didn’t carry this regret buried deep down inside me.
You see – I can’t answer completely what got me up at 7am to work on my garden for four hours before I went for an eight mile walk. I can’t really tell you why when my mother died it suddenly prompted me to take a different, less self destructive path.
I can however write a list of all the things that cumulatively, over a LONG period of time combined together to provide a tipping point – where I had loaded SO MUCH failure upon SO MUCH regret and SO MUCH lost opportunity before I said ‘no more‘ and started to turn my life around.
Sure – I wish that I’d come to this point sooner. I wish I hadn’t done so much to push away and alienate someone that I cared about – but what happened happened. Even though it was painful and still hurts deep down it was necessary. Without this sorrow I’d have no perspective and no willingness to hold onto what’s real and needed in life.
Do I wish that things were different?
Only every day.
But then I realise what I have now as I work in the garden and walk with my friend in the sunshine. Then I wouldn’t change a thing.
Yesterday a fellow Slimming World’r asked me for my before and after photos. and I updated my ‘about‘ page to show where I was a year ago vs where I am now. I then sat there looking at them for a while full of mixed feelings.
I don’t really recognise the man in the before photos any more. He’s almost as distant to me as the man pictured above, despite the two decades separating them. I struggle to relate to his world view, his fear and his lack of vitality.
I remember him well enough though and I don’t like him.
However he made me what I am at this moment. His picture helps me get up to work on my garden – and makes me want to walk further and faster every day until one day I’ll be running.
Unlike him though internet I’m no longer running from the past – I’m running towards the future.