30th August 2020
Kettering to Norwich in one day - 109 miles. (Well that didn't go to plan)
(Extract from the upcoming book by Nahla Summers, The accidental adventurer)
Spoiler alert - I only made it to Ely which was 55 miles. I was provided a headwind not all the way but certainly for the last 15 miles and that was enough to make me wonder if I could do it all again with a wind that was pushing me back. I wasn't convinced I could make it to Norwich without become a blubbering mess and the pressure of arrival would simply be too much. I was set to do the same amount of distance and a bit more to get to Norwich and while the prospect of a new friend, an extra day off and free accommodation was so desirable it was not enough for me to risk it.
My thoughts today on the ElliptiGO led me to thinking about the types of people there are in the world and I know there are hundreds of types of people with there varying personalities but I was starting to see that people fell into two categories for this challenge. The fearful and fearless. The yes and no folks. The take control and those who let life control them. The owners and shift blamers. I had seen these two categories of people present themselves throughout the challenge and I understood it but wondered if you could really live your life to the fullest when you were living in the darkness unprepared to look to the light.....there is a lot of time to think on the bike, so this thought process went on for at least 50 minutes there or thereabouts.
My conclusion in the end was that maybe we all need to embrace life because it's so short and to heighten our own awareness will bring about social change for the positive.
I had my first angry person shout out the window today, they were angry because I was not on the cycle path. In fact I had missed the link onto it just 50 yards previously, it was not obvious to me and in my mind I would join it when the next dip in the pavement allowed me to rejoin and the verge was not in the way, the bike with my luggage is not to easy to pick up over grass verges or pavement edges. His shouting and words rolled off me, but it got me to realise, he shouted at me without thinking that maybe the reason I was not on there was because I had missed it and was waiting for the next opportunity, that it was unintentional. I had not thought how can I annoy as many people as I can today. When a bus driver told me to pull over to the left side in Birmingham he didn't consider that the left hand side of the road was so pot holed it was impossible to ride.
For me it was evidence of us not being able to stand in the shoes of someone else, it's difficult for us to understand why someone does something when we have not stood in their shoes, seen the dips in the roads or the missed opportunities. Kindness is empathy and standing in the shoes of those we do not know. I often remind myself of this also, it's important to own these things but also to consider the consequences to others.
I made it to Ely, (Pronounced Elee) to the stunning Cathedral. I didn't go in though, money is tight, so much has been spent that was not budgeted for because of changes to accommodate other people, its frustrating but it is what it is....which incidentally is my new favourite saying for this challenge.
I sought out the cheapest airbnb but after too long trying to get my account working, Bea (Kindness crew amazing person) kindly booked it on my behalf. I had a few hours to kill so headed to find a warm place to do some work. I found a place that would accept me and Charis. I was given a place in the window with a tall table and bar stool. There were two other tables similar. One with a middle aged man on it with a smiley face and interest in the bike and another with another middle aged couple sat on it passing time quietly.
The woman of the couple was named Bet. We all started to talk between the three tables. In time, she shared she was HIV and had been in an abusive relationship. Her new partner was sat on the table, he was quiet and unassuming, she shared how he was her man. It was a moment of love. She stated she knew what kindness was because she had experienced so much unkindness. She asked me about my project, promptly gave me money towards my nights accommodation and food from her own shopping, I said it was ok but she insisted. I found it hard not to cry, (its what happens when people are kind to me). I didn't know her situation financially, but I got the impression she wasn't a millionaire but what she did have she was prepared to give it all away if someone else needed it.
The chap sat at the other table was Paul. Paul I could tell was also touched by Bets kindness. He was a smiley, jovial person. He asked me about the bike, what I was doing and had a genuine interest.
We talked between us about so much, Paul was open to the world and what was happening, we shared about how we communicate in the world and what was wrong and thats when he said what he did.
'When was the last time you were told you were enough'.
I looked at him, I didn't say anything. I let it sink in, gave the time to stand between us. Eventually I said, I am not sure I have but then maybe I don't need to be told it.
We talked about his recent suicide attempt, his children, he was on occasion emotional but was clear minded and talking as though he was sharing what needed to be shared and as you read this you might think he was oversharing but in the moment, at the time as we sat there, I can assure you he was not. We were humans sharing a story and there was nothing I could say to him so I sat and listened, I stayed present and gave him my attention. I enjoyed his thoughts and his company. He was smart, original and didn't run with the crowd.
What I found more profound was the fact he smiled all the time. He was alluding happiness and if he hadn't shared his truth I may never have known the future he wished for himself.
I don't know if he will manage to move through the suicidal thoughts, I don't know if the short time I had spent with him will make a difference. I hope it does because he was a person who could bring great joy to others and that is all we should ever hope to achieve.