I left Northern Ireland to go to university in England and have lived in England since, apart from my six-month stint in Rome. I’m now on something called ‘qualification leave’. As a reward for finally becoming a solicitor, the firm I work for has given me six weeks of unpaid leave. Think of it as a precursor to having my work/life balance shattered when I properly start law work in April.
I’ve spent the first week of my leave at home and have one more week before I go travelling for a while. Hopefully I’ll be able to update this with some pictures from my trip. I’m planning to go to Stockholm, Copenhagen and then Germany before meandering south-east to Hungary and Serbia and then back up to Croatia, Italy and France.
While I’ve been home I’ve tried to make the most of my free time reading, running, cycling and seeing my friends. It’s been like summer holidays at school again. I’m still motivated to complete my July 31 goals (run 5k in 19 mins, get back to playing the piano, play two sports regularly, keep my Italian going and read 5 novels). Here are a few shots from my 11.5k run today. Pretty different scenery from my Rome running. I love the Irish coast though running past all the farms can be a bit of a nasty experience for the nose.
The running is going well, improvement is being made at a pretty fast rate but it isn’t difficult as I started from a state of severe unfitness.
I’ve one week left and then I’ll hardly ever spend time in N.Ireland again. Christmas, weekends here and there, weddings etc. Northern Ireland will be missed but I can’t wait to be back in London.
Couldn’t finish without saying Happy St Patrick’s Day to everyone, it’s amazing how well celebrated it is worldwide, makes you proud to be from this small island, even if our reputation is mainly for drinking.
In my post yesterday I set five goals that I’d like to achieve by the end of July, I’m really hoping that documenting them will encourage me to complete them because I’m becoming a bit of a compulsive quitter, which would be great if I smoked.
One of the goals is to run a timed 5km race in 19 minutes. I decided to go for a 10km run this afternoon, I’m always good at being motivated in the first week of a new project. As I’ve not done any exercise in a while I took it slowly and because I’ve only got five days left in Rome I stopped to take some pictures along the way.
It’s a start on my goal, my previous best was around 20:15 and that’s when I was far fitter. Now it’s time to pack up my life into boxes and move back to Ireland.
I am leaving Italy in a few days after living here for half a year. I’ll have six weeks off work before moving back to London in the middle of April.
I’ve had a fantastic time in Italy but I’ve not managed to learn the language the way I hoped I would. It’s made me think a bit about how I have previously set myself targets that I’ve not managed to accomplish.
From running an 18 minute 5k to learning the guitar, from having a portfolio of ten piano songs I can play to learning a new language, from reading a book a month to reading the newspaper every day, from becoming an expert tennis player to becoming an expert golfer. I’ve got carried away with big ideas time and time again.
There are lots of things I have managed to complete – my degree, exams, jobs etc but when it comes to learning new hobbies and skills I get myself to a certain level of competence and then seem to hit a wall. It’s so easy to just give up, concentrate on your job and then move on to some new interest a month later.
I’m hoping that recording a few goals here will increase the probability that I follow through on them, or, if I don’t follow through on them I will be reminded of my failure every time I come to this page and it will provide some motivation.
By July 31st 2014 I want to:
- Have got back in to playing at least two sports, probably tennis and football or tennis and squash
- Start playing an instrument again
- Have finished reading 5 more novels
- Started Italian lessons in London
- Have run a timed 19 minute 5km race
There you go. I feel motivated. Let’s see if it is a 0/5 or if I can force myself to DO THINGS!
Often when I’m at work (I’m a lawyer) sending stupidly formal emails I pause for a second and laugh about the ridiculous things I am saying. “Please find attached hereto”, “we would be grateful if you could revert on the following as soon as practicable”… it is all so formal, antiquated and not human.
The law is a great career for me though because I love words. I think of problems as padlocks with the right combination of words granting you access to the solution. Playing with words, working out what people want to happen and then making it so by thinking up the mechanics and rearranging them in the perfect order gives me a lot of satisfaction. When you get something right you immediately know that it’s correct and that there is no combination of words out there that does the job better.
Doing this from day to day makes me think about the limitless possibilities that various combinations of words can lead to. I find it amazing to think that any time you talk to someone there is an endless array of outcomes. I could be talking to my best friend and could randomly insult him and his family and end up ruining a friendship forever. I could be speaking to a random stranger but could by coincidence choose the right order of words to endear myself to that person. I could be speaking to a room full of people and might stumble upon a phrase that inspires someone to do something really good, or really bad. People sometimes say that they would never do something. I don’t think I would ever go sky-diving but I know that somewhere out there, floating around, there is a combination of words that would make me do it. “I’ll give you a million pounds if you go sky-diving” is one such combination.
Any time you speak to any person there is a branch of infinite flow charts stemming from every sentence. How many times have you regretted saying something, where the repercussions that stem from something you said have been really bad? The probabilities of each outcome vary massively. For example, the chances of me speaking to a homeless person and ending up with him giving me a gold bar are minute, but my philosophy is that there is probably a combination of words out there that could make it happen. Just think about movies you watch where the bad guy manipulates a person into doing something they never thought they would or could do, or alternatively, where people are inspired to do fantastic things through feats of unimaginable bravery and courage.
The reason why I’m thinking about all this at the minute is that I finished reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak last night and it had a similar motif – it was probably the main element of the book that I connected with and the title of this post is a quotation from it. Though I have no conclusion and no real thing of value to take away from this discussion I like to think about it. It is both encouraging, and sometimes scary, to think that almost anything that anyone says could be the key to a particular lock and that it might set off a chain of events that seem unrelated to the initial spark.
Friend from home is visiting me in London. I woke up at 11am. We watched 1980s quiz shows until lunch. This was lunch and it was excellent, definitely in my top ten pizzas of all time:
Back to the house. Lazing around and having a few beers. Went out to watch Euro 2012 matches and now I’m watching the golf. I will pay for all of this dearly when I get up at 7.30am tomorrow morning but future me can worry about that. Future me has a lot on his shoulders but he’s a bit of a dick so he deserves it.