Wake-boarding: something new for the list

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Today I finally ticked wake-boarding off of my list of things to do, though to actually have a list would be impossible as it would have to have everything on it. So I’m happy to finally add it to the list of things I have done.

I’ve been wanting to go wake-boarding for ages now. That and surfing, guess I was meant to start wake-boarding first as after two holidays which I took for the sole intention of surfing…I still haven’t been surfing.

It turns out that wake-boarding is pretty easy.Or perhaps, as I was told by the instructor,…I’m a natural.

I had my doubts in the beginning as I wondered whether I would make it up first time or fall flat on my face like an idiot. It turned out to be neither and both in the end; I made it up fine, but then things got a little wobbly. I think the instructor slowed to stop from pulling me off balance but i just kept thinking “go, go, GOOO!!”…..too late.. SPLASH, I was down. “Damn” I thouht to myself “is it going to be like this the whole time?”

I turned, grabbed the rope and gave the instructor a thumbs up to let him know I was good to go. The cable pulled dutifully and I was up, I was up and gliding across the water as  if I had done it a dozen times before.  The end of the cable was coming up and that meant the turn. Now this is a straight cable which means that it stops for a second and then goes back the same way, operated obviously by the instructor. Now to me it was obvious that you need to carve out wide to keep the tension in the line to allow you to turn and keep going without sinking like the titanic.

Watching the people that preceded me, however, made me doubt how easy it was as I watched them sink time and again. I guess I should remember…I am not most people! Coming up to the end of the cable I carved out, hoping that the instructor was on the same wavelength as me and was ready to keep the rope pulling cos I was going for the turn. Well he was, he did…. and I nailed it. It was kind of underwhelming yet at the same time pretty damn awesome, I hadn’t expected to nail it on the first turn. “That was really good” the instructor yelled as I successfully did a second turn back near the starting point.

Feeling more comfortable with the board and the pull of the cable I wanted more and started carving out on the straight. Cutting across on the toe edge a jerk of the cable caught me off balance, a little over enthusiastic correction and….whack…face plant. It felt so good!!

Learning a new skill should never be easy, it should hurt from time to time. It would just be boring otherwise.

” Do you want to try a jump start” the instructor asked as I got ready for the second run. “Yeah sure” I said, whilst I was thinking…” Hell yeah!”  Okay, I know a jump start is nothing special in wake boarding..it’s actually completely normal, but as someone doing it for the first time I found it pretty cool. The fact that I nailed it first time made it even better.

All too soon the session was over and I found myself wishing that I had more time. Wake-boarding for the first time, however, takes a toll on your hands and after a few minutes your grip begins to suffer. I don’t think I would have lasted too much longer. At the end of the session I found myself thinking that I would definitely be back.

At around £26-£30 a session, it is not really a bank breaking activity but it does mean that it won’t be a very frequent one….especially on my salary, and trying to save money. Though I do believe that it is totally worth it for me. I would gladly take 15 minutes wake-boarding over a night out.

Sports invigorate me and after that session I felt alive and fulfilled, anticipating my return, anxious to do it again and push the limits until I get better….no matter how many times my faces bites water.

Go big or go home!

I should have been a Royal Marine

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Join the royal marines. There are adverts all over the TV here in the UK, welcoming men to find their way within the ranks of the royal marines, whether as a full timer or part time alongside their civilian lives.

The truth is that for myself, the idea of joining the marines came long before I saw any of those adverts. I first had the idea long before I even journeyed across the ocean to the British shores. I have always known that my life was meant to be a series of adventures and challenges and the armed forces always appealed to me.

What about having to kill people? I was asked once by a parent of a friend ” Do you think you would be able to kill someone?” Declaring that she didn’t think her son or I were capable of killing.  It was a fair question to be honest, and I agree that everyone should ask themselves that question when considering a career in the armed forces. The answer however, in my opinion, is to be well thought through. I mean does anyone know what they are capable of? No one joins the armed forces in the hope of killing other people, even though it is probably somewhat inevitable at some point. They wouldn’t train you how to do it so well if it wouldn’t be necessary at some point or other. The truth is that I don’t think anyone really is capable of killing, because killing doesn’t just involve the immediate act, but the resulting consequence. The memories, the sleepless nights and the simple knowledge of knowing that you have ended a life.  Is it justifiable? Was there good reason? War is always a topic of debate, was it necessary to protect innocents or just a cover up for ploy to rob a country of its resources. Gold, diamonds, oil, the list goes on. So then you ask yourself, have you been a contributing factor to the deaths of others for a purposeful reason or just some ulterior motive of a puppet master pulling strings.

Why then do I feel that I should have joined the marines and what was it that stopped me from doing just that? I had started training for it, I attended the interview, I had filled out the application and signed on the dotted line. All that was left was to place the envelope in the mailbox.
Adventure, tactics, espionage, weaponry, bushcraft and survival skills are all interests of mine. The comradeship and the pride of earning the coveted green beret.  The marines offered all that I was looking for. Not even the brutal training regime was a deterrent in my mind, in fact if anything it was more of an inviting factor to me. Limits are just a restraint in peoples lives and I always pushed myself beyond my physical and mental limitations. It is only in doing this that we know what we are capable of and become stronger in body and mind.

So everything was perfect, the marines offered everything that I could have wanted, so what stopped me?

In a word….family. I couldn’t imagine leaving them with the burdens that they have to deal with. I couldn’t bare the thought of not being around for my sick father and god forbid his illness take him from me while I am away. I couldn’t find it in myself to desert my mother while she looks after my father on her own, to deal with his illness and to watch his deterioration helplessly. I wouldn’t leave my sister, who has sacrificed so much for this family, to deal with it all on her own.

I made my decision, whether it was right or not I can’t say for sure. I do know that there are and always will be days where I look out my window and say, ” I should have been a Royal Marine.”

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The other side.

In my dreams i’m running. I’m running and I have no idea where. No idea what it is that is chasing me. All I know is that I am consumed by fear, and I cannot, will not look back. To look back would be to die. Fear floods my veins with adrenaline. Everything slows down. I feel my heart. I hear it beating in my ears…ba-boom…….ba-boom…….ba-boom. Everything turns to slow motion. I am not ready to die this day.

Everything is white. I stand in a building facing a labyrinth of corridors. Finally I turn. There is a darkness encroaching upon me. I must not let myself be consumed by it. I run, but I have no direction. No way of knowing if I am following the right corridor. The corridors are lined with doors. I try one. Locked. I try another. Locked.

The darkness is approaching faster now. gaining on me. I’m tiring. Almost at my limit, I am ready to give up, give in and accept my fate. Suddenly I hear a voice, and another. Still running , I look around to see where they are coming from. They seem distant, fading, like whispers carried on the wind, distorted through weeps and sobs…. ” Don’t leave us.” ” Fight, I know you can do it.”

Those voices, I know those…..” NAT!” I yell out to them….”NAT, MOM, DAD….WHERE ARE YOU?”

“Nick…..”

“please don’t leave us….”

” We can’t…..let you go…”

” MOM…..NAT…..DAD…. WHERE ARE YOU GUYS??” I turn into yet another corridor.

I’m faced with a junction… ” Left or right?” I battle. ” LEFT OR RIGHT?”

“DECIDE OR DIE!” I close my eyes and grasp the golden key tied around my neck. ” This is the key that will free you.” ” You will know on which door to use it when the time comes….. If you make it.” She had had a kind smile, but there was despair in her eyes as she whispered those words in my ear. She vanished, leaving me only with the key and a host of unanswered questions.

“Nick…..” A whisper floated on the air.

“I’m coming….I’M COMING!” I tear down the right hand tunnel with all that remains of my depleted energy.

I had almost missed it as I ran past. The gleam of golden light from beneath the door has just caught the corner of my eye. By the time I had realised, I was already twenty paces past the door. I turned.

The black oblivion had devoured all and was quickly clawing it’s way towards me…towards the door…my door. I was stuck, for a moment, stuck in horror at my own stupidity. In my haste and desperation I had missed it. My feet were glued to the floor. I dropped to my knees.

This was it.

I was going to die.

I closed my eyes and a reel of images flooded my mind. Memories, of the people I loved most in the world. We were at our favourite vacation spot. Everyone was talking and laughing happily. I could feel the tears streaming down my face, then the images disappeared.

Suddenly i’m up and running back towards the door, as though i’m not in control of my body. The key is in my hand, the links of the chain that held it clinking as the fall to the floor in my wake. I slide the key into the keyhole. I turn the key, but before I am able to push the door open the tidal wave of darkness crashes over me.

“I’m sorry.”

I begin to fall into darkness, falling away  from the golden sliver of light from beneath the door leading to my salvation.

“I’m so sorry.”

I close my eyes in acceptance of my fate. I let myself fall. No longer reaching out for the increasingly distant light of hope from beneath the door. I let myself go.

“Nick?” I hear my sister’s voice.

“Mom, Dad, come quick….something is happening!” There is hope in her voice. She always was the positive one. I wish i could say goodbye.

“Nick?”…. the voice is getting louder

A golden light fills my eyelids. I open my eyes to see the door, my door, is open and the soft golden light is carrying me towards it, towards the voices….towards my family.

“Nick!” My sister’s voice clear as I reach the threshold.

I emerge into a room, A hospital room. My family smiling over me with tears in their eyes as I awake from my coma.

Written for today’s Daily Prompt – Golden key

You’ve been given a key that can open one building, room, locker, or box to which you don’t normally have access. How do you use it, and why?

Forever waiting

Waiting rooms. I can’t stand them. I spent a better part of twelve years of my life in waiting rooms. Waiting rooms, operating theatres, recovery rooms. I spent so many years waiting. Waiting to see the doctor, waiting to go home, waiting to get better, waiting to recover, waiting to be able to eat again, waiting to go back to the doctor, waiting to see the doctor again. Waiting.

Cleidocranial dysostosis. Though I had a mild form of this relatively rare condition, it still took up a rather large chunk of my life. Twelve years, I would say that it is a significant portion of a person’s life. Twelve years I spent waiting. Waiting for it to be over. I knew that it would be one day. That I just had to persevere and be patient. “Good things come to those who wait.” I used to tell myself. “One day it will all be over.” I would think. Every visit I would wait for the doctor to say that it wouldn’t be long now. The words never came. Hope dwindled and with it my confidence. I was a short teenager with braces, and when I didn’t have braces, I had special plates to attach to the chains that were buried in my gums and around the teeth that needed to be pulled down as they wouldn’t come down of their own accord.

Waiting.

Waiting for the teeth to emerge so that I could return to my orthodontist. Waiting so that he could remove the chains and refit new braces to straighten the teeth.

Waiting.

Waiting for the pain to subside so that I might be able to actually eat a proper meal, not just scrambled eggs.

Waiting.

For the teeth to be straight so I could return for another plate or brace or operation.

Waiting for it all to be over.

5 years later and I still remember that waiting room. I still remember the face of the receptionist as she handed me my file to take in to the orthodontist. I had the biggest file in their records. I was their longest patient. The most visits, the most number of surgeries. I was practically famous, yet for all the wrong reasons.

I remember how I used to dread lying on that damn chair, and how I used to stare at that damned ceiling trying not to focus on what he was doing. Waiting for him to push his chair back and say ” Okay, that’s all for today Nicholas. I will see you in another 6 weeks. ”

I remember times where my mouth was clamped open, a suction tube hanging in the corner of my mouth to suck out the saliva I wasn’t able to swallow. My mouth would go dry and my jaw muscles would be so excruciatingly painful from being held so wide open for so long, and I would wait. A tear would stream from my eye down to my ear, and all I could do was close my eyes and dream of a better time, a better place for half an hour, until I had to come back to reality. To deal with whatever else was fitted in my mouth for the next six weeks.

Wait for my next surgery. Those were always fun. Waking up the next day or even the same day, not really knowing where you are. Throwing up the blood that you inevitably swallowed during the operation.

Waiting for the next visit, because every visit meant one closer to the end. Waiting for the next surgery, because every surgery meant there was one less to be had. Waiting for visiting hours because ICU can be so lonely. Waiting to go home because I couldn’t stand the hospital any longer.

I waited because I knew there had to be something better. I don’t know where I found the strength. There were more times than I can count that I thought it would easier to just give up, to end it all. No more waiting. No more waiting to be told to wait some more, and more after that.

I couldn’t.

I wouldn’t.

I waited.

This post was written as an entry to the Daily Post topic – Waiting room : “Good things come to those who wait.” Do you agree? How long is it reasonable to wait for something you really want?

Some things are worth waiting for and other things are not. It’s up to you to decide how long you are willing to wait for something and if you feel that your wait will be worth it.

Sometimes we wait for things or people to find that it just was not worth it and that we wasted our time. That’s a lesson learnt.

Sometimes in the wait we learn things, about ourselves, about other people. Sometimes the wait makes us stronger.

There are times when we should wait and other times when we shouldn’t.

It’s up to you if it’s worth it and how long you are willing to ride it out.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend?

Sounding like something out of ” The Art of War “, I’m not sure exactly where this phrase originates from. The first recorded use of the current English version was around 1884.

The ideology was used and quite clearly on display during the second world war. It is much more recent events, however, that bring me to the contemplation of the meaning of the phrase and it’s use.

It is true that nothing works quite as well in bringing people together like giving them a common enemy. Common ground is the foundation for cooperation. My question is — How stable is that foundation between two enemies?

The enemy of my enemy is my friend….now take away one enemy. Either way you are left with your ” friend ” being your enemy. The enemy is my friend, or my enemy is my friend. You see what I am getting at? Now consider a more recent phrase…frenemy. Yes, it is a ridiculous term, the combination of ” friend ” and ” enemy “. However, it becomes totally relevant when you put the phrase and the term together.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend could also be… the enemy of my enemy, is my frenemy.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but look a little closer.

Frenemy….a concept mostly seen in girls. Granted, guys are guilty of it too, but women take it to a whole new level. Pretence; Having a profound dislike for someone yet pretending to be their friend when they are around. Often going through great lengths to disguise their deceit.

Being in the company of two girls, you would think that they are the best of friends. Individually though, you see a whole new light as the screen of pretence is lifted and the truth is on clear display. It’s really quite incredible to watch first hand, and to see how easy it is for some.

You see, once you combine the phrase and the term you can achieve a whole new level of chaos. Yes, there is use for it in wars etc, where it is sometimes necessary for such evil to take place in order to achieve a greater purpose. In everyday life though, is it really necessary to go through all that effort? I see people happily talking to one another only to bad mouth them later to someone else. Why?

The answer is a sore truth. No one wants to be alone. To be truthful sometimes means that you will stand alone, surrounded by enemies. My truth though is that the enemy of my enemy may be my friend, or he may be my enemy too. I am not afraid to stand alone for what I believe in, because I believe in myself and I am not afraid to tell the enemy of my enemy, that they too are my enemy. I would rather have an enemy than have a friend that isn’t truly a friend… because that is the worst kind of enemy that anyone could have. A knife is the chest is preferable over a knife in the back. At least that is my opinion.

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Change five things in my life?

Today’s daily prompt is called To-Do? Done! and it says this :

Quickly list five things you’d like to change in your life. Now, write a post about a day in your life once all five have been crossed off your to-do list.

So five things I would like to change in my life. Well yes, I would most probably like to change many things in my life, as everyone probably would. There is always a moment in a day when you think ” if only I was / had / did ” or ” I wish I was / had / did.” There are always those moments when we wish that we were different, or that we could change something in our lives, and for that moment we can imagine an alternate reality. However when faced with the question of listing five things I would change in my life, this must be my answer:

Nothing

Nothing, really!?? Why? You might ask. The answer is quite simple. I have asked myself this question several, several thousands of times even, over the years and I have imagined those alternate realities. It is in those alternate realities that I discover someone else, a stranger in my body, in my mind.

The fact of the matter is, that I am who I am, and if I were to change anything I would not be me, I would be a stranger.

Let me explain….

As a child I was very short, however it didn’t matter to me as I was great at swimming, and everyone knew it. I took pleasure in being underestimated due to my size and to see the shock of other swimmers faces when they finished the race just to see that they got beaten by a shorty. I had confidence, and behind me I had a comfortable life. My family had enough money and I wanted for nothing.

Overtime things changed.

Nobody wanted to date a short shit, I was teased for my large nose, I discovered I had a dental problem which took twelve years of treatment including several operations, painful treatments, painful recoveries, and the wearing of devices that weren’t the most fashionable. We faced financial problems, I stopped doing all the sports that I loved and my self esteem plummeted to an all time low, and puberty brought along a deterioration in my skin just to ice the cake.

I could explain in more detail but I think you catch the drift.

Things just seemed to get worse, as my dad’s business went bust and we were forced to sell the house that my sister and I grew up in. Eventually almost broke, Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We up and sold every possession in order to move to UK to get the right treatment for my father and in hope of better opportunities for us all. Not quite what we planned, but we are surviving somehow.

So again, why would I not change anything?

All the pain and loss I experienced growing up humbled me to a tremendous extent and taught me so many lessons in life and the appreciation of life. When you spend four weeks on a liquid diet due to your jaws being tied shut after an operation….you learn the appreciation of food.

You see, I took all that I had for granted, and when it was all gone, I missed it, but I learnt to appreciate what I did have and the person that I became as a result of triumphing over my testing times in life

I could have become the pompous, rich kid, who had all the money, the girls, the cars, the bikes, but I would be that pompous rich kid, with the attitude, the constant chip on his shoulder, expecting people to kiss the ground he walked on. I just don’t see myself that way.

I learnt the hard way that everything in life needs to be appreciated, most of all family, because in a blink of an eye they can be taken from you. I now believe in earning whatever I get. I work hard to support myself and my family and I work hard to earn the money that I use to pay for my possessions. I am who I am because of the life I lived, and the life that I live now; I wouldn’t change that.

Life is difficult, but any lessons worth learning were never easy and that is why I say, when considering this question on a serious note…. I wouldn’t change anything. There is a lot of good that has been discovered in the wreckage left by the bad even if we still have to live in the rubble.

That sinking feeling

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It has happened to us all, some of us ( yes, myself included ) more than once. We’ve all experienced that sinking feeling, that dread, as we desperately search or bags or pockets for that which we know is not there….the house keys. ( cue the half sigh half laugh as you remember when it happened to you )

The one question that simply must be asked is: why is it that you realize you’ve locked your keys in the house at the exact moment the lock clicks behind you? It is as though, in that click, you hear life and the lock laughing at you ” Ha ha you just locked yourself out. ” In that whiny, childish mocking voice.

In that moment you cringe, tensing up as you close your eyes, fishing through your pockets, praying that it is not true. Then it dawns on you….it is true. You are an idiot!

It is hereafter that you go through the three stages of being locked out:

 

Stage 1: Desperation

We frantically search for a window that we might have forgotten to close or left slightly open. Desperately tugging at any opening that we manage to squeeze our fingertips into. We climb fences, walk over the roof to jump into the backyard in search of that one window. That one loose window that you always thought would be so easily opened, which is now, when you were really depending on it’s weakness, is completely and absolutely shut tight! It is like a figurative slap in the face, before you literally give yourself a slap in the face for being so daft.

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A desperation so intense that it leads you to even try the door, pushing it as though it will just say “okay” and open up for you. Trying saying ” open sesame ” while you are at it.

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Our futile attempts and failure thereby lead us into stage 2…

 

Stage 2: Anger

Anger at everyone and everything. Remember that window? Yep, you get angry at that notoriously unreliable lock on that window, which has now decided, for some fucking reason… to be reliable, when you most need it to be… unreliable…. How unreliable!! Fucking window!

You get angry at whoever that person is that you were supposed to meet, because if they had not decided to meet up, you would not have left the house…and would not, as you are currently, be locked out.

Angry at your boss for giving you an early shift. If you weren’t still half asleep, you wouldn’t have forgotten your head in bed, and the keys in the house!

Then you will be angry that no one thought about putting a spare somewhere in case of a situation such as this…. because it is not at all dangerous to leave a spare key lying around in this day and age. Not dangerous at all. ( please read sarcasm here, because if you are not….I worry for you. )

We shed the blame on everyone and everything but ourselves, because that would require us to admit that we are, to put it quite simply; a dumb-ass.

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Which leads us finally to stage 3….

 

Stage 3: Acceptance

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Finally, after much cursing and sweating, you have to accept that you do not have a hope in hell of getting into your house. Accept that your house, in the very moment that you closed that door, became Fort Knox and short of strapping explosives to the door and blowing it off it’s hinges, you have no way to get back in.

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You accept that you actually have no reasonable grounds for blaming anyone or anything but yourself for this awful predicament.

You accept the simple fact…..You are truly, an idiot of epic proportions!

Congratulations!!

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