Friday, 17 July 2009
Why am I doing this?
Don't worry, this isn't me getting all existential and depressed when I'm still more than two and a half months away from the event. It's more that I've been chatting to Daisy Dumas at the Evening Standard, who think they want to do a piece on me, and I think it's worth taking the time to reflect a little on what my reasons - conscious and otherwise - really are for this slightly silly undertaking. I think there are 3 reasons.
A big part of it I think is about the relationship between exercise and the environment - my relationship, and other people's I see around me. I was reading Joanna Macy this morning, and she talks about how some of us exercise to exorcise, using sport to numb and distract ourselves from our concerns about what's going on in the world (others of us use TV etc in similar ways). I think this is definitely true of me; sport has been a distraction mechanism, and so I want to change my relationship with it, so that my sport represents an active expression of my values and beliefs rather than a respite from them. I believe the crises in the world are such that I have a moral responsibility to face them in everything I do. So it is about me to quite a significant extent.
But it's also, more importantly I think, about how it is possible to appreciate and savour nature even in the midst of a London lifestyle, and on a daily basis. As I run through Hyde Park and along the Thames in the morning and evening, and swim in the Serpentine, I am able to refresh myself with what really matters to me, and appreciate the beauty of these places. I'm perfectly willing to admit that I'm a pretty extreme example, but if I can fit in enough running, cycling and swimming in the London area's wilder places to do an Ironman, and do a fairly full-on job at the same time, I think I'm hoping to provide some inspiration that anyone can get out and find their version - even if it's just walking the most scenic part of your journey home every now and then... Of course, some people never get that opportunity, and that's why it's the Wilderness Foundation I'm raising money for, so that I can be a part of making it possible for people who really wouldn't get the chance to experience these things otherwise.
Finally, it's becoming increasingly about discovering and celebrating the inventiveness that some people and companies are showing in response to the global crises we find ourselves in. The idea to make bikes out of bamboo, and to use your company's profits to help other people learn to do the same; the bravery to jump ship from a major TNC powerhouse and make shoes the way you believe they should be made... it's really powerful stuff. It's this kind of 'Phoenix Economy' behaviour that gives me faith that we'll find a new way to run society, far more than geo-engineering solutions that would temporarily extend the window for our present unsustainable approach (although we might need them too!).
Sorry, bit of a long one today... but hopefully a bit of an insight into what I'm all about!