It was Christmas Day and my mind was full of dead people. I woke up thinking of the lost. Those people I might have telephoned or sent a letter wishing them well at the end of another year. However, now gone, out of contact, out of this world and there is no other. This is the agony of age, thinking of people that meant so much to me but have now died. As is so often the case, I did not do enough to maintain the relationship and I carry that guilt. My sorrows went further as I thought about three marriages, all of which collapsed and changed my, and Ann’s, life. They were friends and we lost them as the bitterness soured everything. It was not for want of trying, but we could not hold on to them. Overcoming loss is one of life’s many trials.
Having got up and made breakfast, singer Al Bowlly cheered me up. We decided to walk and headed up Rebellion Knoll, the hill we can see from our snug. A steep climb to the gate giving access to the fell and 5 fellrunners appeared. The three men and two women were muddy, sweaty and full of life. My mood upswung in a fraction, movement means life and life is wonderful. We chatted, explaining that we were running the next day. We swapped routes, we told them about a running book we had read. Bluntly, we were enervated. We climbed the 500 feet full of energy and, from the top, surveyed the potential Roman road I am researching. Then it was down for coffee and a mince pie.
They were my people, those fellrunners. Firstly, the excitement, call it play if you prefer, still courses through my veins. Secondly, the open countryside, the sun, the wind, even the mud, is our storyline. These remind me that we are organic machines. We came from, and belong to, the earth. Insofar as we maintain that relationship, we are well. Our human sorrows, challenging as they are, tell us we had love in our lives. As an athlete I am reminded that life is like the high-jump, it ends when you knock the bar off. It ends with a failure.