...Have you suffered, starved and triumphed,
groveled down, yet grasped at glory,
Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole?
"Done things" just for the doing, letting babblers tell the story,
Seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul?
Have you seen God in His splendors,
heard the text that nature renders?
(You'll never hear it in the family pew).
The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do things -
Then listen to the Wild - it’s calling you...
An extract from Call of the Wild – Robert E. Service
What inspires us, what motivates us, what causes us to dream, what causes us to reach out beyond the norm? What chance encounters lead us down paths less travelled? What is it we seek in these long distance adventures? What happens to us when we dare to not just dream but do? What of those who do the same as us? Is it the same for them?
I am drawn as a moth to a long distance flame. The flames get ever brighter, ever mesmerising, and ever hotter. Sometimes the flame burns me, shrinks my wings, and I am forced in to a spiral to land for a spell. But nature dictates I’ll set off again seeking the hottest, brightest and most mesmerising flame in my vision. The flames flicker and splutter casting shadows, they talk to me, leading me forward in my journey.
So onto chance encounters and the tiny deflections and ripples in reality they create. Loudeac on the return from Brest. On the return journey within the experience called PBP 2015. A happy relaxing time, physically and mentally feeling good, sleep deprived enough to make it a dream world, but awake enough to remember.
Into the dream world enters Eamon Nealon. He shares a dream within this dream. A dream of cycling the entire west coast of Ireland as an Audax. With the energy and enthusiasm of a thousand Suns, he plants the seed of the “Wild Atlantic Way Audax”. Then we carry on, on our separate ways back to Paris.
The seed is planted so deeply within my cranium, that it takes a while for the light to reach it. The light of my sub conscious begins to dance and swirl around it, probing it, and slowly it begins to flicker to life. Not until October 2015 does it enter the visible spectrum of conscious thought. Just as the ancient light of a thousand billion galaxies containing a thousand billion stars illuminates the night sky, so the light of the Wild Atlantic Way begins to illuminate the dark sky of my mind. The constellations of neurones flicker to life, a light storm of the mind moving beyond the speed of thought, growing stronger by the day, energy and matter transformed, reality shifts and shifts again, I’m dizzy. I’m hopelessly, wonderfully, lost in the grip of the Wild.
I am drawn as a moth to the long distance flame of the Wild Atlantic Way Audax.
Hold on tight
Training is an inadequate word for what is happening to me. I laugh, I cry, I smile, I frown, I sweat, I shiver, I succeed, I become confident, I fail, I become doubtful, I sob, I throw up, I exhale, I repeat, I move on, forever onwards.
This is not how it is meant to be. My emotions my very self is cast upon that Wild Atlantic in the months leading up. At the mercy of the waves my essence begins to dissipate as concentric ripples in the ocean. Rising and falling with the swell. When all seems lost the ripples of my essence reflect back from the coast and I am recast whole again.
The wild is beckoning me forward, she’s drawing me into her embrace, and protestations that I am not ready will not do. I am caught in her gravity, being pulled towards her event horizon. There can be no escape. She is ready for me, and that is all that matters. Reality has shifted again.
What makes us confident? How can we know where success lies? What does confidence mean? Does success breed success, and failure breed failure? Which do we learn more from, success or failure? Does confidence lead to success? Where do your doubts lead to?
What can I say when you ask if I feel confident? My very answer can affect the way I feel inside. If I say I have doubts, I have worries, will you offer me words of motivation and encouragement? Your words will not help me. I need to be clear of your noise. Do not be offended.
I must enter the embrace of the wild alone, you cannot help me.
So it begins.
The week before and all is prepared. With nothing more to do I enter a period of calm. The calm before the storm, sitting in the eye of a hurricane? I cannot tell, for the future and past seem blind to me. I’m beginning to enter the now.
I travel down with Stuart Blofeld by train and ferry. Sleep has not been forthcoming, delayed ferry, a train full of kids at full volume, a tired and late arrival, sorting and packing drop bags after 11pm. We start the event with little sleep, getting up to the alarm at 4:15am.