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Posts Tagged ‘Simon Amstell’

I have been in a bit of a bad mood today – not in the sense I have been in an angry or an ugly mood, but I have been in the opposite of a good mood. I would call it a grumpy mood. Slightly annoyed by the unwanted intrusion of work at the weekend and the seemingly endless list of things that I should be doing, I have dithered and only done half the things I could have done. But it isn’t just work. It is work combined with the upcoming Florence marathon. And I recognise why that is curtailing my happiness – I hate the waiting. I hate imagining every time I sneeze or cough that the tendrils of some evil illness are insinuating their way into me to destroy my plans. I hate the thought that I will forget something and have a mad panic trying to buy it in a foreign city where I don’t speak the language. But more than all that I hate the fact that I can’t really concentrate on work (because I keep sneezing or remembering things that I mustn’t forget) or the race (because I really need to work) and as a consequence I end up being unsatisfied with my work and my marathon preparations.

I heard an interview today with a chap called Simon Amstell who I gather from the BBC website is a game show host renowned for his irreverent humour. He was being interviewed about the reason he quit the TV show he was hosting. Now please don’t think that I am holding Simon Amstell up as some great modern philosopher, but one thing he did say, was that he thinks it is only possible to be happy in short isolated and fleeting moments. And I agree. I think it is possible to be content for long periods of time, but real happiness is a short-term feeling triggered by total immersion in something wonderful.

So this is why I think I have spent today not being happy. I have not immersed myself fully into anything. I worked, but I was thinking about the marathon. I thought about the marathon but I was distracted by work. Indeed even now at this moment as I write this, I am thinking about something that I need to do really, really urgently for the marathon and two emails that I really should send to clients tonight. Not fully immersed.

And so that I think is at the heart of the marathon for me. When I am training I sometimes allow random thoughts to steal into my mind. But not when I am racing. When I am racing I am totally focussed on what I am doing. I think about the course, my breathing, how my legs feel, the person next to me or behind me (or indeed in front of me), the reward I have promised myself at the finish line, the time for the last mile, constant calculations about finishing times. Nothing creeps in that is not about the race, about the next stride, the next 100 meters, the next mile, the final 10km.

I think this quote accurately sums up my feelings: “If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.” (Andrew Carnegie, November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919) and that for me is marathon running – it is the thing in my life that fulfills all Carnegie’s criteria and so I thank goodness I have running to fuel my happiness and until Sunday I need to be patient and know that soon enough I will have the opportunity to savour another happy moment. Can’t wait!

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