Water – and swimming- have always been a refuge for me: I could swim before I have memories of not swimming. As a child, I felt compelled to head out into the ocean and just keep swimming to the horizon and beyond- keep going til I hit land. I don’t remember hearing about channel swimming, but I have early awareness that a woman had swum to France and I thought that was incredible. And proved I could swim someplace else.
I was struck with glandular fever at 10 and didn’t fully recover- my adolescence being marred by periods of immune dysfunction and exhaustion. It was not until I was 17 and wheelchair bound that ME was given as a diagnosis.
Recovering from ME at such an early age was life changing and liberating- I live without symptoms and spent years regaining trust in my body and my ability to challenge myself. In fact, ME defined my life in so far as I cannot ignore my dreams for fear of frustration triggering a relapse! Life has become a true adventure in the 20yrs since the wheelchair. I travelled and studied abroad, learning indigenous alternatives to healthcare and cultural perspectives on life. I ordained as a Buddhist nun to intensely train in meditation and challenge myself both in mind and body. I relish times I get to immerse myself in that balance of physical being and consciousness. Endurance swimming is nothing if not that!
I now find myself drawn more than ever to share my experiences- the sense of empowerment in overcoming and ultimately learning to rise above challenges is a habit that seems impossible the first time: insurmountable odds are just a few more steps than you think you can take. So far my life has taught me that unless you take as many steps as you think you can, how are you ever going to learn that it really is only a tantalizing few more to get where you want to go?
Human endeavour is miraculous. Pioneering spirit is within all of us: our own lives are there to be explored and this incredible planet we live on is an absolute gift to be cherished and learned from. It’s our right to learn about ourselves and our responsibility to do what we can with what we learn.
In a nutshell, it’s all about exploring the art of possibility to fulfil your potential. Knowing yourself gives you tools to explore your limitations and go beyond your boundaries- change your inner landscape and redefine what you thought you could do.
What is the formula for getting from here to wherever you want to be? By what process are dreams fulfilled? Or indeed, should dreams be fulfilled at all? Should they not be sacred and sacrosanct- held aloft like gossamer links to a finer, higher self? And heroes- should we emulate, seek to surpass them? Or what about becoming our own hero? Is it possible? Is it conceit? And what would it mean to our wider life to achieve our dreams and become our own hero? I believe we need to bridge the gap between our dreams and our daily life- and it’s inherent in us to be able to go for it.