25.2.14

Living life one day at a time

If you know me well, you'll already be aware of my almost OCD compulsion to bring order to my life. I
never feel that my life is as organised as it could or should be. Alongside my other personality disorders, like my near clinical perfectionism, this often manifests itself in a paralysis of indecision and inaction. In the last few months, I've been working on internalising a different philosophy. I'm trying to focus on living life one day at a time.

Living life one day at a time may seem at odds with the long term planning necessary in my professional career and in my long-distance running training. I think that it complements those demands. Running training particularly teaches you that each day that passes is gone forever. If you skip a training session, you cannot get that day back. The date of the race will not change. You will just have one fewer training session in your legs.

There is a natural pattern that makes a day a compelling unit to use. It is natural and intuitive in a way that hours, weeks, months and years cannot be.
You wake up, things happen, you go to bed (usually).
Even if you don't go to bed, you are aware that a day has elapsed.
The sun rises. It sets again.
No other unit has that same definitiveness.
A day is short enough to hold the last day in memory.
A day is short enough to visualise the whole day ahead in your mind.

You do not chop down a forest all at once. You chop down a forest by chopping down lots of individual trees.

And so it is that you can only live your life one day at a time.

You cannot change yesterday.
Tomorrow is always always a day away.
Live life today.

Photo Credit: Project 365 #288: 151009 Making Plans by comedynose (CC BY)

20.2.14

Selfishness offsetting

Do you remember the greenwashing fad of carbon offsetting from about 10 years ago? If you bought a plane ticket, the airline would plant 10 trees or something to offset the carbon emissions from the flight. Total greenwashing, but planting more trees is probably not a bad thing (I haven't actually researched this assumption). Anyway, I'm about to do something similar to offset my selfishness.

Now, this is not just about offsetting my normal daily selfishness. That's pretty bad just generally given my acute narcissism. Nope. This is about offsetting my exceptional selfishness in signing up for an ultra marathon in November 2014.

Let's get one thing clear. Long distance running is a very selfish hobby. It means hours of training away from your family and friends. And, even during the event, there's not much to see as a spectator. For example if you're watching a marathon, in the best case, you might see a runner 4 or 5 times for a few seconds each time.

To compound things, not only am I signed up for the Brecon Beacons Ultra in November 2014, as part of my preparation I've also signed up for the Edinburgh Marathon in May. So my family and friends are facing an entire year of me disappearing for 3 hour runs at the weekend, me obsessing about my diet and calorie intake, me spending several hours in the gym, and me sending excessive money on kit, training fuel, travel and accommodation.

To try to reduce the impact of my selfish choices, I'm going to attempt to offset my selfishness by raising money for charity. The charity I will be supporting is Azafady.

Azafady carries out charity work in Madagascar. I've chosen Azafady for many reasons. I have personal connections to a volunteer worker. I believe that Azafadys's approach to sustainable development matches well with own personal beliefs. I also think that the Malagasy are a truly deserving cause. I am sure I will post more on this. The facts of life for the Malagasy are stark and disturbing. For example, in 2008 seven in ten Malagasy lived on less than $2 per day. Now more than nine in ten do.

The Economist World in Figures 2010 listed Madagascar's infant mortality rate as 65.2 per 1000 live births, ranking it the 35th highest infant mortaility rate in the world. Only 35% of its rural population  have access to improved water sources. Only 10% of the rural population have access to improved sanitation.

Madagascar's environment is special. Somewhere between 80-90% of the plant and animal species are endemic to the island. Environmental pressures mean that this ecosystem is under constant and accelerating
threat.

As the current stewards of Planet Earth we owe it to future generations to take better care of the world they will inherit from us. Azafady directly contributes to improving lives of the Malagasy and to protecting one of the most special places in the world.

I will be badgering you incessantly about this for the next few months. Let's do something amazing together. Let's raise a startling amount of money and make a true change to the lives of people that suffer a quality of life most of us cannot begin to imagine.