So, do I walk 400 miles or just sit here and drink tea?
As I plan this walk I’m spending a lot of time thinking about motivation in general and my motivation in particular. Lots of people lose those who are close to them – whether its from Alzheimers, cancer or any of the other nasties that get us in the end – yet the majority of people carry on with their lives in the same old way rather than getting involved in fundraising stunts for various charities. I’m not trying for one minute to suggest that they’re bad people and that I’m oh so virtuous – I’m very well aware of my shortcomings as a human being and it’s not for me to judge others. But it’s just so complicated isn’t it, where some of us are motivated to do certain things and some of us aren’t. If I had the opportunity I’d love to sit down with people who have done extraordinary things and try to winkle out of them what motivated them to do the things they’re done. But I’m not sure that this would really enlighten us because I wonder if people even know themselves why they are motivated to do what they do.
The whole subject is so complex. Now I can understand why someone would be motivated to do something that helps them personally – whether that’s losing weight, giving up the booze (been that, done that, got the T-shirt), getting fit – but what about those people that do weird and whacky things even though they don’t stand to benefit at all from what they do? Take Mark and Caroline Cook of Hope and Homes for Children (http://www.hopeandhomes.co.uk/) who I was lucky enough to meet in the mid 1990s. They gained absolutely nothing personally from what they did but they did it regardless. Perhaps because they thought that it was simply the right thing to do. Likewise Laurence Gribble (the son of a friend) and his mate Nick Codrington. They’re cycling from Cambridge to Hong Kong to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK. There’s very little chance that at their age (they’re in their 20s the lucky sods) they’ll get prostate cancer but they’re doing this marathon event regardless. (http://journey-to-the-east.com)
As the actor asked of the cinema director ‘what’s my motivation?’. Despite the time I’ve spent thinking about this recently I’m still not 100 percent sure what’s driving me to do this walk. I have a few ideas so bear with me whilst I ramble on incoherently (rambling on incoherently is one of my specialities. Perhaps I should put it on my CV under ‘Interests’ along with tea drinking and insulting strangers on the internet?).
The idea of doing this walk had been on my mind a couple of years back but it stayed just an idea because my circumstances changed. I had found myself a paying job – the very idea. At the time I also found myself a shiny new girlfriend (or victim as some might see it). And so the lure of money and the opportunity to see a lady without any clothes on trumped by desire to raise money for a charity. Pretty selfish or just human nature?
So why now after two years with the idea lying dormant? I suppose I could blame the weather. Just before Xmas the days were short, it was cold, grey and generally carp. I was feeling decidedly ‘liverish’ is PG Wodehouse would have said – or a bit ‘pissed off’ to use the modern vernacular. To add to the sombre winter atmosphere, relations between my girlfriend and myself were decidedly sticky. Just like the soldiers at the front in 1914 we managed to avoid open hostilities on the 25th but just after Xmas we broke up and she moved out. So put these two things together and you can see that the idea of doing something just that little bit different had great appeal.
I had this urge, this need to get out and do ‘something’ and then the idea of the walk came back into my head and in a few short minutes I though ‘sod it, let’s just do it’. So there you are. Simple. Only it’s more complicated than that – no surprises there then. I suppose this need to do something different, something ‘big’ is understandable. But rather than just being pure self-indulgence it had to be something that made a difference. Something that had more value than just taking me out of my comfort zone and breaking the routine of my life. And so the idea of doing the walk for charity made sense as it would motivate me to crack on with the idea and not change my mind. And in a way that’s why I’m writing these words that you are reading. Now there is no going back, no wimping out as I’ve blabbed, let the cat out of the bag and told anyone and everyone about my walk. Whether doing this walk is self-indulgence on my part I hope that it is ultimately a positive thing. On that, only time will tell.
Bathing in custard and shaving your hair off
In my previous post I was talking about the the things people do to raise money – you know the kind of thing – crossing the Himalayas by frog, swimming across the channel carrying a rucksack – that kind of thing. Anyway, wouldn’t you just know it. Here I am all puffed up feeling ever so virtuous about my 400(ish) mile trek when I come across the website of a certain Philip Williams who also did a little walk, also funnily enough for The Alzheimer’s Society. He finished it on September 7th last year. As I type this I’m still coming to terms with the enormity of his achievement. When he crossed that finish line in Brighton by the pier he had walked the entire coastline of the UK – OVER 6000 MILES – jeez Louise. And in the process raised over 60,000 quid. My flabber is ghasted and to be honest his incredible achievement makes my planned walk seem a bit pathetic in comparison. But I’ll just have to do it anyway. Philips’s website is at http://www.philipwilliams.uk.com and I’d recommend you have a look. What a guy, a person I’d very much like to meet one day. I’d sure he’d have some very useful tips about how to deal with blisters!