Friday 7 November 2008

Don’t tell me you’re tired unless you’ve run around the world!

I’m tired. I’m so tired that when I blink my eyes stay down and before you can say ‘ga ga’ I’m off with the faeries, dribbling from the mouth and snoring a passable impression of the Flying Scotsman express train steaming through a tunnel.
Nobody wants to feel tired, but there’s good tired and bad tired.
Bad tired is where you feel like the world is against you and you don’t want it with you anyway because it’s a horrible cruel place where the bad people live, and all you want to do is go to bed and sleep and hide.
Interesting: I tried to define ‘bad tired’ and came up with a description of depression!
Whichever way it defines itself, ‘bad tired’, is always accompanied by feelings of frustration or anger, often an oneself. Maybe you’ve failed to meet a personal target, or let down a loved one; whatever it is, you just don’t have the energy to drag your sad sorry arse up and out to make yourself do the necessary.
And then there’s good tired, which is where I am today. Exhausted, yes, but satisfied. However deep down my spirit slumps when I try to remember the last day on which I awoke and had absolutely nothing to do, a proper day off, and even though I know that up ahead there’s still unfinished business; indeed tomorrow I have to sit and fill out my Tax Form 11 and prove once more to the Revenue Commissioners that I have not earned enough money to contribute anything to the nation except my own PRSI contributions, and, of course, my own madness; and the day after that I head off once more to England to spend a few days with my glorious lovely Mum, and then return to start work again; despite all of the above, I know that right now, while I may be tired (I think I mentioned that, didn’t I?) I am happy.
Four days ago I finished the second draft of the novel, which should now be completed by Christmas, hastening, as Sir Alex Ferguson so poetically put it, ‘Squeaky Bum Time’ when I must turn this manuscript into a good book, and then be judged.
The day after I finished the draft I found out that my friends from Melbourne were arriving at Shannon with their two teenage children the following day; the day that was going to be my day off, but no matter, because these folk are precious souls who I have not seen since 1989, so all was good. I raced around like a mole on speed, shopping cleaning and picking up mattresses, whilst also writing what you read in this space last week, so as to free more time with my Ozzy-tralian mates.
So brilliant, emotional and wonderful was it to see them that on both nights of their visit I lay awake insomniacal, brain racing, trying to come down from the fantastically intense work that I had just done on my book; the welcome sight and stories of my lifelong friends, and generally, as ever, needing time alone and awake to process the marvellous yet messy and mixed-up monstrosity that is life.
Rising before dawn on the second morning we all headed up to Knock Airport, whence I returned yesterday, so drained as to be barely able to stand and breathe at the same time.
In that state I knew I had to just keep on keeping on until all the boring necessities of life had been executed, so I made a shepherd’s pie from yesterday’s leftovers, stumbled, did the bins and recycling, dribbled, blinked but opened my eyes just before I fell over, then rushed backwards and forwards from garden to kitchen as I tried to cook whilst simultaneously listening to the most lucid engineer who came round to service the boiler. Then I passed out on the sofa.
So tired, yes, but feeling fulfilled, having reached my goal of the second draft just in time for my mate to fulfil his lifetime goal of returning to Europe to meet the mates he made growing up in the 1970’s.
Glorious stuff indeed, and yet my paltry pathetic tiredness pales into insignificance when I look at the goals that others set themselves.
As regular colyoomistas will know, this scribbler loves a good adventurer, and recently, thanks to the Sunday Times’ Camilla Long, I read of a woman whose story left my jaw dropping so wide and long it has scarcely recovered.
The woman in question is one Rosie Swale-Pope, a 61 year-old resident of Tenby in South Wales, who tragically lost her husband to prostate cancer in 2003. In October of that year she set off to run around the world, and two months ago she made it back home, after having journeyed alone though Europe, Russia, Siberia, Alaska, Canada America, Greenland and Iceland.
Despite searing heat and sub-frozen temperatures, a breast-cancer scare, breaking five ribs and fracturing a hip, Rosie kept on running, raising awareness for Prostate Cancer Charity (, whilst dealing with her personal pain and loss.
When the sun shone she could run 30 miles a day, but when conditions deteriorated, she’d sometimes only manage 500 yards.
She explains:
“This is the scenario at -62C .... your hands freeze, and if your hands freeze you cannot undo the zips, so you cannot tend to your feet ... inside the (30 x 60 inch) rig, I would massage my feet, put some oil on them, stick them in the wet sleeping bag, and in the morning wake with eyelashes frozen shut. Every night I’d face bears and wolves ... No one else on the expedition except you, with the howling of the wolves and the blizzards and the storms. It’s extraordinary.”
No Rosie, you are the extraordinary one. She suffered frostbite, lost consciousness after eating raw spaghetti, and in Russia had to eat pasta with reindeer hair in it for days, before nearly starving to death in Alaska.
Worst of all was the business of being alone.
“Loneliness is like a knife wound.” she says,”It started out of cancer, loss, sorrow and heartache and a wish to turn something round. You can always turn things round, and if you can’t, then someone you love can do it for you.”
Nah missis, you won’t catch me whinging about feeling tired while there’s people out there like the thoroughly splendid Rosie Swale-Pope.

1 comment:

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That's a great photo to go along with the article.