Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Boy who Cried Wolf

I recently read this story again, in class, and although I remembered it, it resonated this time. The situation here in Greece cannot be described as good, but for some reason, I have remained calm.
I have spent the last two years, in 3 month cycles of panic and relief, breath holding and deep breathing alternately. Every three months (or so) there is a new threat, a new Eurogroup meeting, the next tranche, the possibility of default, of exit from the Eurozone... I spend several days closing watching and listening to the news, reading articles, thinking of 'what if's'. Yet, so far, we have evaded destruction... we march on.

Disaster might be close, but I have simply run out of emotional energy to invest into it. If it happens we will find a way. If it doesn't, so much the better. Like the villagers in the story, I am not responding to the boy... yet the wolf might be nearer than ever.

In the meantime we are enjoying all that Greece has to offer. Having made a very conscious decision to stay (it seems the best choice for us, personally, professionally and strangely, financially too, at this stage) we have also made a conscious decision to enjoy the best of Greece. And we have!

We have taken to the mountains several times and have extended our excursions further afield,  not simply to the mountain out our front yard (which are still  visited regularly nonetheless). We have made a point of travelling around Greece a bit more - we visited the beautiful area of Kalamata in the Peloponnese and ran in the Natura Reserve. We are also spending more time with friends, enjoying the reliably sunny weather outside at every occasion.

Resting after a morning run on Immitos with friends.

Not forgetting to stop and smell the flowers on the way...

Dusk in the Peloponnese.

We have also decided to do something - not to simply complain about the situation. We set up a community project a series of fun runs for all, which we hope will benefit both the charities we want to help, as well as all the people who join us. We feel that Greece needs more community involvement, more people off the sofas and on the road, trying to achieve, however small the contribution or achievement might be.

Finally we have also been racing - May and early June seem to be prime race season in Greece (it then gets too hot it seems). Our first race for the season saw me coming second (unexpectedly and mainly due to luck, I feel) on a short, but steep mountain race on Parnitha. I certainly had fun, especially tumbling down the mountain - at last all this downhill training paid off!

(Thank you to Path Runners for this picture!)

Unfortunately with all the racing, training (and standing up at work all day) I seem to have picked up a little niggle. So, more swimming and cycling from now on - maybe look at another tri towards the end of the season? That is, if Greece it still standing after the upcoming elections...

Monday, 19 March 2012

Running on snow

Both an actual reality, as well as an allegory for what life has been like lately...

We have been running on snow. Literally and figuratively. I often make analogies of life and sport and this one dawned on me after I had been looking at some of the pictures from a run we did a couple of weeks ago. It was a wonderfully sunny day, maybe the first of spring, and we decided to go and run on Parnitha for the day. First we climbed the nearly vertical mountain, step by step, lungs screaming and legs burning.

Then we reached the more level part of the mountain and were surprised to see there was still snow there (rookies!). I was wearing my favourite running shoes, my inov8 195's, a great pair of shoes, but made for road and certainly not for compacted and iced-over snow. We started running, at first avoiding the snow, then the further up we went there were fewer and fewer parts not covered.

Soon the whole trail was covered and the choice was simple - keep to the footsteps in front of you, but fear slipping on the compacted snow, or go onto virgin snow and risk occasionally sinking up to your thigh.

Life has been a bit like that too. We have been running up the mountain on snow. 2011 was a tough, tough year in every sense of the word. It left us winded and tired, deflated and unsure of where to go from there. But life is relentless and you can only go forward. After the steep uphill that was last year, we have now hit the plateau.

2012 has started well and is certainly easier than last year. It is however, covered in snow. We are taking tentative steps, unsure of what we'll find. Greece is in crisis. Not a theoretical one, but the kind of crisis that has left people on the streets, that has children fainting in class from not having eaten for days, that sees friends losing their jobs, relatives unpaid for months, pensions disappearing, cold houses in a long, long winter.

We have been moving forward, yet looking down. Wary of the holes and the icy parts. Having to make choices of whether we stay on the path or diverge from it. Careful of hidden traps and moving towards something we don't know much about.

But, like running in snow last weekend, we have actually been in a position to enjoy it a bit more. It can be tough, but we've had two really difficult years and we know that we can do this. We've been through worse and have come through. We have each other for balance and we can pick each other up. And like that, we are getting into our stride, both figuratively and literally and enjoying the route.

Not bad, for the first day of spring!