Decision (Latin: de + caedere) literally, a cutting off

When asked last year why I was training for a triathlon, I flippantly replied that it was to look good naked. I’m not going to comment on whether I achieved my goal (although I totally did) because beyond this superficial (but important) motivator, I ended up having a great deal of fun. And so, last October, from a budget hotel room in Amiens in Northern France, on their interminably slow Wi-Fi, and on my even more interminable phone, I spent about an hour rashly signing up for twice as much fun, and twice as much sexiness. As I write now, some eight months later, I’m trying to recall the thought processes that went into that decision.

I like to believe I processed all the information available and made a balanced decision but decisions are rarely made with the brain alone. My curiosity played a part; I like to test myself, to explore my capabilities, whether that be physically, mentally, musically… (admittedly, I don’t explore very far sometimes) but if I’m being honest, my inquisitive nature didn’t account for much. Ego, and a certain arrogance, were bigger contributors, because the friends I watched compete in the same race last year made it look easy, and so I felt sure I’d be able to do the same.

I also recall how well things had gone for me in 2015. It helped that I remained free from injury,  able to meet the time commitments of training, and I recall how relaxed and confident I felt on the day of my event. When things come easy to you, complacency and over-confidence are hard to avoid. Loath as I am to admit it, ego did play a bigger part than the aforementioned (and far more noble) trait of curiosity. Let’s just say I’m a LOT more humble now, and I have even more respect for what my friends achieved. But it wasn’t just ego either.

I had never heard the term until earlier this year – such is my sheltered existence – but I’m beginning to think I was finally swayed by an attack of the FOMOs. Of course my ego won’t let me think I had a “fear of missing out”, just as my ego won’t let me think I signed up because of my ego. Egos are funny like that.

Ultimately the reasons are irrelevant. I made the decision, and once any true decision has been made, you commit. You need to have committed, because it is hard. It’s very hard. You are effectively taking on a second job – did I say it’s hard? – and the loss of all that spare time affects not only you, but those around you who rely on you having that free time, and that flexibility.

I don’t regret the decision – never regret. I imagine that when I reflect on this time, some eight months from now, my memory will have dulled the frustrating and unpleasant and instead I will be left with only the more positive emotions. But I’m not in the future yet and so right here, right now, I’m convinced there are less time-consuming, less exhausting, and less expensive pathways to all of that fun and sexiness, just as I am convinced that some of my friends will tell me there isn’t a triathlon in the world long enough to make me look good naked… but then how would they ever find out?

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The Untied Kingdom

I began this post in the aftermath of the Brexit vote and, still in shock, it remained blank. I felt unable to muster even the tiniest of farts for that hurricane of reaction, and so I limited myself to sharing on social media the observations of those with far more eloquence. But as I’ve lain awake this morning, just over 24 hours after the news, and having worked my way a little further through the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – I began to think what it must have been like to have joined the EU in the first place.

One of the images I shared yesterday noted how the younger voters largely wished to stay, but the older voters wished to leave. The same graphic noted that the older voters would not have to live so long with their decision, and yet wasn’t it these same voters that took Britain into the EU, back in the 1970s, when it was ‘safer’ to remain as we had been?

Change is hard; even more so when you’re one of those people who don’t get what they want. The future is always uncertain, but even more so now, and my thoughts are with those more keenly affected than me: my British friends in Europe who are worried about being ejected from the country they call home, and on the flip side, my European friends in Britain. My fervent hope is that we find our way to remain as connected and to share with one another as much as I feel we need.

I’m still flipping back and forth between those stages of grief and I haven’t quite left anger behind. Part of me is angry with myself that I didn’t do more, but the vote results came as a shock to me. I’ve been thinking on why. One of the reasons for that might be because I surround myself with people who think like me. Social media reinforces that by using algorithms to feed me with news articles they think I will like, and so my deluded bubble is reinforced. Instead I should be connecting with more people who are not like me. To connect with people who live in another country and call it ‘done’ is just cheating if those people still have a similar level of education, are from a similar socio-economic group, and have the same value set, etc. Instead I need to listen to people who don’t like Europe and who fear immigration. In the U.S. I need to listen to people who love guns, who want to vote for Trump…  because as long as I keep living in my secluded idealistic world, I’m not doing my bit to turn untied to united.