This photo was taken by my best mate on June 27th 2016; the day I left Brighton to walk 3000 miles around mainland Great Britain. Look at me there (the credulous bungler between the V’s); I thought the whole trip would last 7 months. 7 MONTHS! I thought I’d be walking 25 miles a day no sweat and that I might even make it home in time for Christmas. Lol.
I walked to Worthing on the first day, where I’d arranged to crash at my mate Adam’s pub. Once I arrived I watched in dismay as Iceland handed England’s arses back to them in the last 16 of the euros, before satisfying my 14 mile thirst with pint after pint of continental lager. I ended up getting so trashed that the following day I left the pub, managed a 100 yard shuffle up the road before I turned around, shamewalked back to the pub and fell asleep in an armchair in the main bar, waiting to be discovered by Adam. I crashed another night and lost a whole day. Shit like this (although I do appreciate the comedy value in it) has had to stop. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy getting drunk with friends, I’m saying the opposite; I love it, far too much. The big rub, however, is that drinking also opens a door in my mind that lets the demons in. I’ll try and explain what I mean by that… There are a number of doors that do this; the ongoing challenge is to figure out what actions open what door and if I try and adjust my behaviour enough, I can lock them. If I, for example, know that my relationship with alcohol is what causes one of these doors to open, then why the fuck isn’t that door bolted shut and forgotten about while I focus on the others? It’s not a great analogy but it’s the best I can explain it.
Anyway, the photo. Looking at it I can’t help but reflect on everything that’s happened to me since I left Brighton that day. Ignoring the voice in my head that told me the whole idea was ridiculous and actually taking those first steps changed everything. The thing that made me stop dreaming of adventure and start doing it for real was a realisation; that the only difference between people who know what they want and are prepared to take a risk, and people who wish they were the ‘type’ of person who can do that, is that the people who do it – they just do it. I didn’t think I was the ‘type’ at all; I was a lost, depressed 30 year old bar manager developing a substance abuse problem. Not exactly a prerequisite for a 3000 mile test of endurance. What I’m trying to say is that we (humans) are capable of far more than we give ourselves credit for. ANYBODY can achieve beyond their perceived ability, EVERYONE has the ability to get out there and inspire others, and deep down we all dream of a life well lived. It’s taken a year and a half, 2,400 miles and a marathon for me to feel like I’m actually dealing with enough of my shit to make strides towards a life well lived, but still I feel like I’ve work to do. The difference now is that I no longer hide away from the work that needs doing; I welcome it. I’ve learnt that my happiness rides on my desire to move forward, to keep the adventure going and to continue connecting with the world. And if that’s what I need to do in order to be happy, then finishing this challenge won’t be the end at all. It’ll be the beginning.
The start of a new year can be a fresh start. If you feel like you know what you need to do to feel like you’re living life how you want to live it, then just do it. Fuck the risk. If I can do it, anyone can. You can change everything.