Sunday, 25 January 2009

Spending your time with strangers

After the sprint course orienteering at the Joburg Zoo this morning (super event, fabulous turnout - especially of new participants and children) I had a really interesting chat to one of our adventure racers / orienteers. It got me thinking about time - time for yourself and sport - and the very special people in our community who contribute so much to our lives.

I don't know how often I've heard people saying that they want to run / cycle / go to gym but that they don't have time. This has most often been in social situations outside of this adventure racing / orienteering community. Afterall, chances are pretty good that if you're reading this, you're sporty and active already. So you'll certainly relate to encountering "I don't have time to exercise" people at general social events. I've also overheard these conversations while standing in queues at the supermarket. It is definitely not uncommon.

When you reach transitions in your life - new job, moving home, changing Provinces, new baby - then something has to slide. It is ok for your usual exercise routine to take a back seat for a few weeks while you adjust to the changes (healthy body, healthy mind would probably help you to cope better anyway so this isn't a totally good reason to stop being active completely). And then you get back into it once you've settled down.

But no exercise at all because you "don't have time"?

Friend #1 works for a financial institution and her job is demanding. She's married and she has two young children. She spends a lot of time with her children in the evenings after work with homework, drawing, reading and educational games. The children have extracurricular activities during the week and over weekends, like swimming lessons, dance classes and music lessons. She supports these activities and has also brought her children up to be outdoorsy and sporty. Motivated by her own children and the overall benefits to other people her sporting community, who also have young children, she has developed a children's skills programme. She has worked on this for months, spending time on it after the children have gone to sleep and over weekends. She plans the children's events, which are partnered with the adult events. She also has her own training to do, which she does early in the morning before the children wake up. And, she is on her club's committee and she is involved with organising events too.

Friend #2 has a full-time, but flexible, job in a profession he didn't study for. He has part-time involvement, running his own business, in the profession he did study. He is heavily involved in two sports - organising events, committees, guiding training - and is focused on contributing to his communities for the good of the sports (and the participants). He is also involved in another sport, which he has done for years. He attends sessions weekly. He is also a competitive athlete so training is important - in multiple disciplines. And he is married and has many pets. Children are on the horizon.

Friend #3 is married with two children. He has a position of responsibility in his company and his profession is specialised. So much so that he has even written a big, hefty book related to his industry specialisations. Like my other friends above, he is involved in multiple sports - organising, developing skills training, which he shares with other people. He also puts in training time and he participates regularly.

Friend #4 is single. He runs a main business with another on the side. He's also committed to more than one sport in terms of organising and he is very involved in his clubs and committees; he has been for years and years and years. He also puts in a lot of training time in multiple disciplines and competes locally and internationally at top level.

These four are not alone; many others within our community hold down day jobs and they juggle family committments and their own training with organising events for other people.

They also all cook, have other family responsibilities - in addition to children and partners - like visiting parents and siblings, they maintain homes, read books, watch telly and meet friends for lunches and dinners.

What unites my friends described above, and others like them, is that they are involved in their communities. In this case I'm talking about our close sporting communities. They do these things because they want to. Not only for themselves and their friends within these communities, but for absolute strangers. They put in all this time to share what they love with people they do not know. This is what makes the World go around.

I'm proud to know these people. They're special and caring.
Back to the issue of "I don't have time to exercise". Mmmm...

Friends, I appreciate all these things you do. You could be spending your weekends lying on the couch, drinking beer and watching sport; but you don't. The energy and time you put in makes a big difference to the World. Our World. Thank you.

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