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Dear Biddy,

Jumping over the hurdles of life is an oft used metaphor, as is running your own race and getting to the end in one piece. As a child hurdling was my favourite athletics event, if you saw me now you wouldn’t think so! When you knocked one over you just kept going, despite the bruise and the time set back. Keeping going despite the hurdles in your way was the main lesson I learnt. I missed the lesson of being fit and agile to clear each stall with confidence and speed. I didn’t miss the lesson to get to the end requiring gritty tenacity and a clear vision that the end is always in sight even if there are obstacles in the way. Good lessons Sally Pearson reminded me of this week with her Commonwealth Games appearance.

Obstacles are there for a reason – the intentionality of the even spaced hurdle to climb over causes the athlete to learn about pace, speed, breathing and coordination. Most of the everyday hurdles are not evenly spaced out in life – some crowd together so you don’t even have time to catch your breath and others so far apart by the time you reach them your level of fitness has dissipated and you can barely step over them. Fitness of mind and spirit has a lot to do with how you can manage the metaphorical hurdles of life as they occasionally pop up like traffic spikes from an invisible force underfoot.

Immovable, cold and determined to shred you in your tracks; the agile and the innovative deftly manoeuvre around these to keep going with a minimum amount of blood on the tracks. Having a cheer squad around you always works for me and I am grateful to those who get the spikes out of the way, help me see them in the first place and who soothe the injuries that they cause.

My hunch Biddy is that your hurdles were both physical and metaphysical too – and that the inner work you practiced in deep communion with your beloved space in County Clare kept you in a conversation of creating and co-creating overcoming hurdling techniques. The elixir of life contained in your little blue bottle a potion to get over and around hurdles.

A hurdle is really a temporary fence, trying to keep something in or out.  Jumping the hurdle defies its temporal meaning and its purpose. By clearing the fence you are leaping over time and containment. You are seeking a freedom and a certainty that the finish line is yours and is in sight. The certainty in which a star athlete like Sally Pearson showed us this week is an aspiration rarely achieved in every day life and comes wrapped with a coach, a team and a bank of skills and energy built up over years of hard work.

The blue bottle from which I sip is a deep well. I drink in and am soaked by sunshine and hail, a horizon beckoning me to come closer, a landscape ageing and unfolding its revelations as each day sets. And in the knowledge that hurdles are not always evenly spaced, bruises are inevitable, I am not fit, there are times when hurdles will masquerade as spikes and come out of nowhere. I am wrapped by a cheer squad living in my blue bottle, and coaches that call me on and through and over hurdles as I stumble or successfully clear a temporary fence.

Hurdles

Hurdles

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