One year on…

I’ve always loved to write, and I find that I’m often writing things in my head, so after many years of doing nothing about it or putting it off, on October 8 last year, I finally decided to start putting some of those thoughts and ideas down in the form of this blog. I just finally found the strength and felt compelled to do it. I suppose I’d thought about it before but always managed to talk myself out of it in one way or another. So I’m not sure what it was that finally gave me the courage and conviction to go ahead, but on that day last year, I suddenly had no fear about it anymore and thought, ‘well, why not?’, and here we are now – one year on…

I guess the courage to ‘just do it’ came from the fact that I’ve always hated the idea of being afraid of things and the unanswered ‘what ifs’ not doing these things creates. Well, perhaps not always. I’m sure that when I was little I was afraid of the dark and normal things that kids are afraid of, but I guess since I’ve grown up – I’ve hated the idea that fear of anything would prevent me from doing something. And I can think of numerous times that feeling afraid of something in my life as an adult has actually been my reasoning for doing something… like having literally moved out of my comfort zone to start a new life overseas (more than once), or the time I went skydiving, or having braved the perilously tall and sheer drop of the Jumeirah Sceirah water slide rather than walk back down the steps and admit defeat, or the time I took part in Trek Peru for Cancer Research UK despite my numerous fears about the trip: fear of being able to raise the huge sum of money for the charity to take part, fear of the tough challenge of high altitude trekking in the Peruvian Andes or even the (what turned out to be a rather rational) fear of walking along some of those terrifyingly narrow ledges on the side of the Andes with nothing but several thousand metre drops below! Even the fear of failure at points in my life I suppose. I guess maybe you could say that I don’t like to fail. But above all – not doing something purely because it’s frightening is not a good enough reason for me not to do it – I suppose I see it like a challenge that needs to be accepted and overcome. I refuse to let myself miss out on opportunities simply because they seem to hard or too scary – and as a result many of these ‘challenges’ that I have accepted – both big and small – have formed some of the greatest memories of my life.

Also one year ago, on this very day – October 11, my otherwise healthy and fit Father passed away after an unexpected and short battle with a neuroblastoma brain tumour. I remember feeling afraid of not having him around anymore, how could it possibly be that the day would come that he would no longer be around to chat to? Well, come that day did, and it was just as terrifying as I’d imagined. On this occasion, there was nothing I could do to rationalise my fear, nothing I could do about the situation at all, other than to grieve. Looking back now, it’s strange to think that a whole year has passed. It’s been a whole year since I saw or spoke to or hugged my Dad, and it’s still frightening to me to truly realise that I’ll never be able to do any of that again. Though, since then I have learned that the people you lose in life always remain a part of you somehow. I think that was the hardest thing for me to understand when people offered their condolences at the time – the phrase “I’m sorry for your loss”. Whilst I understood this was said in kindness and for a lack of knowing what to say or being able to help, the words always stuck with me. ‘But I haven’t lost anything!’ I’d think to myself. ‘How could I possibly lose anything my Father gave me and my family?!’. And that was my answer to my fear conundrum – the consolation that even though my Dad is gone and I never will share another hug or conversation or game of golf or anything with him ever again, that he still remains with me, part of me, still influencing the way I live my life through the values he instilled in me. And so it is with great reluctance that I am forced to accept this particular fear facing challenge, and as terrifying as the thought of him not being here anymore may still be, I can certainly say without any doubt that the memories that were shared with my Dad before this day one year ago have without doubt formed some of the greatest, happiest and fondest memories of my life.

There are some fears in life that cannot be avoided, and some that we cannot do anything about. But there are many more that we can do something about. So join me – let’s laugh in the face of the fears we can do something about.

nothing to fear but fear itself - Arabian Notes

“There is nothing to fear but fear itself” Franklin D. Roosevelt.

St.Anton and Innsbruck Dec 2010 053
Me and my Dad: Christmas 2010 in St. Anton, Austria

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