About 10 years ago I started running for exercise. Maybe a little more. It was absolutely brutal to start out. I had to really convince myself that I was doing something good, and every day I found some excuse to want to do something else. Also, it hurt more, and I could only run 2-3 kilometres before finding that the whole experience was just too hard.
Then that 2-3 kilometres became 3-4, and eventually 16-20. All through that, everything just became… became easier. I’m not just talking about the running, it was deciding what pants to wear for the temperature, where to put sunscreen on. Knowing how my legs should feel. Knowing how tight to tie the shoelaces on my shoes so they were comfortable. Hell, knowing which shoes to buy became easier.
This experience happens with just about everything we do. There’s no way around it. The first time you decide to bake a loaf of bread, it’s all so daunting. All that kneading. When is it “done” ? Who knows. The thing you have to be aware of is that this extra ‘hump’ exists, and that you have to climb it.
I remind myself of this every time I try to learn something new, like I did this morning.
So I’m here in Sydney; There’s a great outdoor swimming pool, by the beach, called the Bondi Icebergs. They have an olympic pool, filled with saltwater, right by the beach. It was built as a training pool for lifeguards to use in the off-season.
It’s a great locals hangout, and I take any excuse I can to swim in it when I’m around. It’s 50 meters long, and in order to be a member you have to race the club races for 5 winters in a row. Icy.
Sitting in the sauna yesterday, though, I overheard that the pool doesn’t have higher level sanctioned events in it since it’s apparently not exactlyOlympic length, being perhaps 2-3 centimeters short of 50m. This makes it ineligible for various types of official competition, record setting and more.
At first, I thought this would be a ridiculous oversight. Damaging to the reputation and the core of the place, and meaning they don’t get to host any lucrative meets. I’m not sure if it is short of 50 meters, but I felt that this was a strange mistake.
The more I thought about it, I realised in some ways this was a feature. Some places deserve to be non-competitive, or at least, competing on their own terms. Nobody that swims in the saltwater minds. In fact, it means that the people that swim there do so for more pleasurable reasons. It’s a feature.
Still not sure if it is in fact 2cm too short.
Whenever you travel somewhere, to any destination, the first thing you see and experience there is the airport of that place. We know that first impressions of people matter, but of places? they matter just as much.
Whenever I come to Sydney, the warnings about not bringing in any food, drink, and the giant metal bins are the first things I see when I come into the country. Then, the large duty free store just before customs reminds you that this is a privately owned airport, a commercial enterprise.
In New York, the yells of men asking you if you need a Taxi, over and over, walking into a busy mess of a place, disorganized, insecure, dirt, a mess; Still, it works somehow. Barely. Just like the city.
Portland Oregon had an airport that was green, luscious, with ivy to make the parking lot beautiful. Public transport to the airport. A bike lane to the terminal. It was just lovely, civilized.
Dallas Fort Worth? The lady at airport information was memorable. Elderly, a volunteer, she recommended I step outside the airport – just for a minute – , to breathe the fresh Texas air. She tells me the airport is bigger than Manhattan in area. The airport had a southern style barbecue carvery right outside the gates. In case, of course, you need a kilo of meat before you fly.
LAX is a mess of lines, traffic, over capacity and just an incredibly unpleasant place to be. It’s exactly why I’m writing this post. I’ve been through that airport literally dozens of times. Not once have I ever wanted to turn the transit into a longer time, purely based on what the airport has to offer.
I could go on, for all the various worldwide airports I’ve seen. The fun thing for me is paying attention. You really can get a sense for how a place works outside of it. I always keep my eyes open in those first few minutes when I get off the plane in a new spot.