Thursday, 1 November 2012

The problem with words

It’s been a while since I last posted or at least it feels that way because I’ve had 3 or 4 themes floating around in my head that I’ve been too busy to do anything about. Sound familiar? The reality of juggling life, right?

Anyway, there is a valid and positive intention to this post (I hope).

I had a few days off work recently and during the rare moments of spare time I had a wee look through some of my previous blog posts. Something unsettling occurred; just who on earth did I think I was?

It’s a question I’ve been openly asked quite often (not so the last 10yrs or so – more when I was in my late teens and early 20’s) and now the penny has dropped. I now understand why some people would’ve asked it and now appreciate how I may be perceived at times……..PRETENTIOUS and PATRONISING.

In other words, claiming superiority with great importance in what I have to say and being boastful, obnoxious and vain. Hindsight really can be a wonderful thing, especially as it now affords me the opportunity to put a few things right.

First and foremost; an apology. There are few things more annoying that some twat speaking at you, talking down to you and telling you what to do. I’m not apologising for what I’ve written and I’ll come to that in a bit, I’m apologising if I’ve made anyone feel as though they were reading the words of said condescending knob. For me life is precious, it’s about leaving your mark. So if I’ve done that in a bad way through my blog, a way that gets under someone’s skin then I find that regrettable because it has never been my intention and nor would it ever be.

It might not seem like the best thing to say to prove my point but…. I do believe that what I have to say is important. Otherwise I wouldn’t write it. What I write is simply my opinion. It is what I have learnt through reading and experience. None of it is fabrication or a colourful misrepresentation of the truth.

Stuart Mills alluded to this very thing recently (his opinion) when he posted in relation to a comment made by one of his readers i.e. me. And another recent post by a well known blogger reinforced my belief that it was time for me to clear the air.

The long and short of it is summarised by me stating this; what I write is what I wish someone would’ve told me 4 years ago. It’s as simple as that.

I’ve always felt that if I can commit to something and give it my all then I’ll do myself justice – I’ll come back to this. It isn’t just about running but is applicable to everything in life and it comes back to the ability to juggle things; keeping all the plates spinning.

Anyone who cares about being as good a parent as they can be will instantly get that – and if that statement makes you wonder ‘just who on earth does he think he is’ (again) – then alls I can say is that I know that there are too many people out there that don’t really care about being a parent as much as they should.

I’m afraid I never skirt around the truth and I have a habit of telling bullshitters exactly what I think of them. It’s just the way I am, I suppose I may be perceived as having a problem with fake people – I don’t see it that way though.

The way I see it, is that the vast majority of people who do ultras and who may even read this blog do not fit into that category. So whenever it might appear as though I’m going off on one again, it isn’t directed at you. It’s more me dealing with my issues; ‘externalising my anxieties’ as Richard (the Beruit Taxi) might say.

Ask yourself if you’ve ever met someone in your own life and been instantly taken in by them i.e. impressed – so much so that you strike up a bond with them, one you hope will last a long time. The positive side to this is that these individuals make you sit up straight and take account of your own life. They inspire you to do better. These individuals are precious and within the ultra running community there is countless numbers of them.

The problem comes when someone is exposed (think Lance Armstrong) or when it strikes you one day that all that stuff that didn’t quite add up was for a reason – the person in question was/is a bullshitter. All of what you were striving for (in association) becomes meaningless, you start to question who you are and begin to consider if your morals are sound. You see, as far as I’m concerned this goes way beyond the likes of Lance and has far more to do with the ever expanding fake society in which we live. Image is so important that some people can’t help themselves.

I follow that we are all equal; we come into life with our skin, bones and organs and will die with same. The only real difference is the mark we leave on others. Whether it is felt by a few or the masses - it is our legacy/lifetime actions that should define us.

I’ve always felt this way and had an urge to seize the day - without looking down on others. In my view, it shouldn’t matter where people come from, what housing estate they live in, what school they went too, who their parents are, how much money they don’t have, who they know and are friends with, their age, their lack of qualifications, their previous minor discretions, how they dress, how they speak etc – regardless, we are all capable of great things.

And by the very same token I don’t look up to anyone, and never have. Sure, there are a slack handful of people that I admire and respect but never once have I ever looked at someone and thought them wholly better than me simply because of their widely perceived standing. For example, I do not think of the Queen in any particular shining light nor of any politician, millionaire or person who might have a thousand friends on facebook.

The fact is, no matter how much money you’ve got or how privileged you are (or think you are) you are still as accountable as the next. As far as I’m concerned, although we are all unique, we are concurrently and paradoxically - the same, until we prove otherwise - by our actions, not our possessions. Your morals say far more about you than the style of your hair, the car you drive or what your occupation is.

So coming back to committing to something and doing myself justice; my actions are to do as best as I can at everything I take part in. I know that very statement will wind people up the wrong way – but look, that’s just the way I’m made. I can’t help it.

This is why I’m banging on about ‘The Four Pillars of Ultimate Performance’. It’s my hope and intention that this can be designed and subsequently used as a blueprint for any novice or aspiring ultra runner. Or again, if it makes anyone feel any better, it’s what I wish someone had told me 4yrs ago; it’s only my opinion.

I can understand if some people look at my blog and wonder who the hell do I think I am. After all, I’ve done nothing in this game and won zilch. However, I think that stance says a lot more about those people than it does me.

I guarantee that 2013 will be a very different year in terms of my ultra running performances and it’s all going to be due to the knowledge I have amassed over the last 4years; something I am willing to share. How many of those people would want to do that?

What I can say is that I am very unlikely to offer some magic advice or add to the vast array of literature that already exists. It’s just me and my thoughts supplemented with what others say on certain areas. I have a good idea of what to write next and how the four pillars will take shape and I could be right or may be wrong. What I will do though is put the stuff I know and have learnt down in layman’s terms and make it as brief as possible.

Now think back to that scene in Dead Poets Society.

For those who can’t remember or who have never seen the film; the teacher (Robin Williams) makes a name for himself by inspiring his students to think for themselves – among the young people their parents and his peers. There is a tragedy late on in the film that spurs the parents and some of the teachers to apportion blame to the teacher. The Head Teacher ensues to bully some of the students into taking sides, his side, in a bid to get rid (of the teacher).

Being so young and impressionable and given the strict culture of the era it is easy to understand why the boys all folded to the pressure. However, at the end of the story they each individually manage to muster the courage to make a stand in support of their hero.

What do you notice?

For me, courage aside (i.e. it is a given for me – and wish it was for everyone despite what they claim) I noticed that there were a lot of boys still sitting and with their back to their previous teacher. This for me is the problem with words. Sometimes they mean everything; some people get it and some don’t. Such is life.


  1. Never once found your words pretentious or patronising mate. Keep writing.

  2. that means a lot to me, thanks bud

  3. I'm a well-known blogger? When did that happen?! The impressions that people get about one from one's writing are inherently skewed; I am always stunned when, at a race, someone sheepishly admits that they read my blog and, after talking for a few minutes, they say "You're not terrifying at all" (or some such thing). People who do know me outside the internet are equally surprised that the "me" on the internet is not who they know - and they'd be quite shocked at my female fashionista alter ego on Twitter! I'm approaching post #1000 and have started looking at old things I wrote; sometimes I find myself thinking, "Gosh, that guy can write. I wish I could." Then I remember that it was me, not that long ago.

  4. haha, yeah Steve, I'm with ya. I do find you to be uncompromising at times with the stuff you write. And I appreciate that - hopefully you see why. And yeah, I'm quite different when I get talking off-line too. Cheers for the inspiration.

  5. Steve, I'd like to meet you one day, you arrogant, uhem...Dale, you, on the other hand, are very mellow and just seeking within:) Well written. Now if you'll excuse me, I am going to go and look inside myself...

  6. Hi Dale, Heres a poem I wrote recently that I thought rather tied in with your post. Hope we get the chance to say halo at the fling 2013.
    Yours James Hill.


    If in time my story’s told,
    It could be said his eyes were cold,
    Along the way his soul was sold,
    His was not a heart of gold.
    It might be claimed he was not kind,
    The path to love he could not find,
    Worthless were the cheques he signed,
    And of all this he did not mind.

    The self same storey, told from anew,
    Concluded that his eyes were blue,
    His spirits soared his feelings flew,
    He’s lucky that his heart beat true.
    His kindness beamed a shinning light,
    His love had wings of angel flight,
    He kept the faith through endless night,
    And made the call b’tween wrong and right.

    Yet some of this may well be true,
    Give words a certain due,
    They know their lines but not their cue,
    Look far and wide yet miss the view,
    Actors in a passing show,
    Fallen angels in the snow,
    Bagatelles; I’ll let them go,
    For me to find the me I know.

  7. Hi James, I replied originally from my Gmail account (unsure if you received it?).

    I think your poem is perfection and thank you for sharing with me.

    hope to meet you soon.