So last week I took a short jaunt off into the central European Alps last week to see if I could show the small people what it feels like to carve a set of perfectly formed turns into some freshly laid powder. These days I try and spend as much time as I can rolling up the side of geological scale bumps, but it has to be said, there are few feelings that compare to drifting silently down the side of a mountain with a pair of scientifically engineered planks strapped to your feet, surrounded by a bubble of fluffy whiteness.
We were not blessed with the best of the waste deep stuff, but 10 minutes cutting your way through some freshly fallen virgin snow, even if it is only ankle deep, is still worth a year of waiting. Fortunately the small people also have an appreciation of how cool that feels, so I not only had the pleasure of experiencing it myself, I got to see the look on their faces as it dawned on them what the old guy who pays all their bills has been going on about all these years.
So, no cycling, no running this week. Some light swimming in the spa pool, but nothing that could reasonably be called training. The week was hardly filled with lazing around, I did work the body on the slopes, but it was a week off from feeling that I have not done enough miles. And some time to think.
Sitting in the airport at ridiculously early o’clock on the way out, scanning my twitter feed, it suddenly struck me that all the people I follow on Twitter have one thing in common. Well, more than one thing. They all cycle, run or swim (this is my triathlete persona after all….). But that’s obvious. And they all tweet (daaah … as the small people would say). No, it was something else. Something way more fundamental.
As I was sitting there waiting for the departure gate to open, the sun was just poking it’s nose over the horizon, lighting the departure lounge windows and in places elsewhere around the country, the faces of a quite a few of my already up and about twitter compadres. As they prepared their kit, wrapped up against the sub zero temperatures Siberia had so graciously sent us and set off on their way to various, mostly cycling, events around the country, they were announcing their awakeness to anyone who wanted to listen and reveling in the glorious day it was shaping up to be. All this while large parts of the rest of the population were still either deeply comatose, or pulling the covers up tighter around themselves, preparing for nothing more energetic than a slow read of the Sunday’s and a steaming cup of char sometime later in the day.
Those of you old enough to remember will know, the song says “Life, life is what you make it”. What is clear through this collection of tweets is that all these people are busy making their lives… Fuller. Making their lives ….More. A passionate Lust for Life positively springs out of my twitter feed. While others are sleeping, watching other people’s more interesting lives on tv or reading about other people’s problems in the papers, these people are Doing. Being. Enriching. Achieving. Actively seeking out pain and exhaustion. Pushing themselves to and beyond their own personal limits. Just for the shear fun of it. And all the while, feeling great about it. Celebrating every second, every small victory, every blood red sub zero sun rise they get to see.
A lesson I try to teach the small people is to choose their social circles wisely. I tell them to surround themselves with people who share a common desire to suck the very marrow out of life, doing things that are exhilarating, exciting, inspiring. I tell them to seek out friends who thrive on making the most of every opportunity. Friends with whom they can share the joy of enriching their lives with new experiences and new skills. Just like riding into a wind, there will be many things that might hold the Small People back as they push their way through the hills and valleys of their lives. Can’t Be Bothered. Too Tired. Not Enough Time. Not Sure I Can. Not Sure How. Scared to Do It Alone. But if they can find a fast moving pack, a pack going in a direction they want to go, where all the members of the pack take their turn at the front, riding into the wind will become way easier.
When I was a whipper snapper, there was no Twitter. No social media. No easy way to see beyond the small world in which I lived. Inspiration was harder to find. Like minded people less visible. As a result, living life to the full was not always easy. It wasn’t necessarily obvious what Living Life to the Full actually meant. How it could be done. Despite my archaic pre-digital upbringing, I was eventually fortunate enough to meet many interesting people, some of whom have helped me do exciting and amazing things. Things I could not have done alone. That includes Mrs Short Bloke, and the Blokes of course, none of whom could be accused of wasting more than few moments that could otherwise have been spent Doing, Being, Living.
But were I not so fortunate, were I to suddenly feel alone in my feelings that there must be a better ways to fill my days, I would not need to look far to find inspiration. From Texas to Taunton, Somerset to South Africa. On G+, Twitter, Facebook, in the blogosphere, every where I look there are people showing the way. I chose cycling and triathlon but I am sure there are thousands of others pulling themselves out of bed with the sun rise to go Do other stuff… Canoeing, climbing, moto-cross, Thai boxing. Who knows what. What ever it is, they are out there, tweeting and blogging about how painful and exhausting their last session was, and how great it felt. How exhilarating their last race was, and how excited they are about the next one.
Pick a hashtag, peruse the Twitterverse, wander round the groups of G+. These places are positively stuffed full of people making the most of their days. People not treating life like a rehearsal. People not waiting for a do over. People doing it now, in this life, because they know that if they don’t, they will never do it at all. These are the people who never waste a second. The people who live to run, ride, compete, learn. The people who try harder.
So it struck me, as I vicariously enjoyed the dawning of another glorious day through the lives of my Twitter comrades, there are no excuses for lazing a life away any more. No excuses for not realising that there are more fulfilling ways to spend a Sunday morning than just slugging around waiting for something interesting to happen. There is always some one who shares a common passion. Someone who can remind you that doing what you love doing is what life is all about.
Now, I know there is a dark side to that. But the light side is worth that price. Whatever happens here in the rest of my life, there is always some one out there in the digital world to remind me that life goes on, that life is for living, for living it Large . The Global Village has made sure I’ll never forget that.