Monday 22 March 2010

Outer heroes point us towards our own inner heroes

It never ceases to amaze me that, with over 100 television channels available, there is so little worth viewing.  What has captured my mind and my heart over the last few weeks is Eddie Izzard's Marathon Man. 

A completely untrained comedian decides to run across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, with the aim of running over 1000 miles - a marathon a day, six days a week for eight weeks.  It's an ultra-endurance sport that most people would not even dream of undertaking.  But he does.  And he succeeds.

The reason I love this programme is because it demonstrates, yet again, that the only limits that exist are in our minds.  It is only our mind that says something is impossible.  If we believe it's possible, it becomes possible.  It also graphically illustrates that strength of mind - the positive slant on stubbornness! - is required to go beyond the extraordinary. 

Scenes of him running half asleep, weaving into the driving lanes, as exhaustion takes over, show his determination to keep running, and to finish every day.  Equally, sitting in a bath of water filled with icecubes for up to 15 minutes after every marathon, show that endurance and strength of character are required in the small moments every day, when others aren't watching.  The series itself is both touching and inspring.  Eddie's openness, vulnerability and strength are an inspiring mix, that cause me to question, after each episode, 'What are you not doing, Jennifer?'. 

I haven't answered that question yet.  And it may be that, right now, there isn't any Herculean feat whispering in my ear.  What does strike me is that we get very cosy in our grooves... so we complain more easily when someone else sits on our seat, eats the last slice of cake, or fails to do today what they did yesterday.  We are so much more than that...  We don't have to run a daily marathon to discover our inner hero.  We simply have to be willing to 'show up' a bit more in daily life: to dig deeper into who we are and show a little more compassion, tolerance and kindness.

We each have a hero within.  For some of us, that hero emerges through the 'doing'.  But for all of us, the hero is always in the 'being'.  It is in allowing the richness of our characters to shine forth in luscious colours, rather being lulled to sleep by the predictable rhythms of our lives, into a washed out, pastel version of who we are. 

Eddie's journey reminds me to live consciously.  To remain open and honest.  To enjoy the small joys right in front of me.  Rather than glazing over, numbed by the routine of life, it's useful to consider how I can 'be' more richly, within the humdrum of daily life.

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