So I just walked a marathon.
Without going into the back story here, I really shouldn’t be able to do that.
And honestly, I didn’t think it would actually be possible. It was just something I said I’d do and something to aim for.
I remember back in February when I went to see the head consultant at my specialty CFS / M.E. clinic, told him about my plans to walk a marathon and asked for his opinion.
“Of course you can walk a marathon Steve,” he said, rendering me a little speechless. I was ready for him to advise against it, listing all the medical reasons why it would be a terrible idea, especially as he’s one of the foremost specialists on the illness in the country.
But instead, he gave me his full support and encouragement. My initial reaction was to agree with him, on certain conditions. If I don’t have any big flare-ups, if I train correctly and adequately, if I stop whenever I feel I need to, if I have a good period of rest before and after the attempt, if I manage my diet ahead of time, if I’m ready for hell afterwards and if I have the right support then, yeah, maybe I can.
Knowing how rare and unusual the convergence of those conditions were, I still didn’t believe it.
Turns out he was right and I was wrong
There were times both in training and during the walk itself when my body wanted to curl up and sob. There were times where the pain of each step made me want to hail a cab and be done with it. There were times when the brain fog rolled in and I got confused as to where I was and what I was doing. And there were times when I fully embraced how shit I felt.
But along with the reasons I wanted to do this in the first place and the amazing support I received from good friends, the seed of an idea that’s been incubating these last months suddenly bloomed.
There is no confidence in suffering.
There’s no doubt that my body was in turmoil. I was struggling and suffering. It wasn’t pretty.
But my awareness of those experiences was not suffering or struggling. My awareness of how my body was and how I felt was just fine, and it was just fine with however things happened to be.
So that’s where I hung out.
If I’d resided in the place where the struggle and pain were, then that would have been my experience.
When struggling and suffering become your experience, the choice to run and hide becomes overwhelming. Or perhaps you dig deep and fight it. Either way, the din of struggling and suffering (and fighting) drowns out any confidence you have in being able to simply put one foot in front of the other.
By choosing to hang out in the quiet space in the centre of the storm that’s never not there, I got to hold an intention and apply natural confidence right at the point where that intention met the world outside.
Yet again, just as it’s been doing all along, this illness is teaching me what real, natural confidence is all about.
So I owe a big thanks to the friends who supported me with every step, and that includes the illness itself.
Take a look at the video to see how the marathon walk went, and if you can, please donate.