Free Solo

Hello. Can I just get my apology in nice and early? I have a cold. I hardly ever get colds and when I do I become ratty and unreasonable so probably best to take anything you are about to read with a pinch of salt – especially if I am moaning.

I have done very little this week apart from blow my nose and complain. Yesterday I went on a Christian writers’ day in Bath. I thought it might be interesting but I don’t think that it was meant for me. Most of the people there had already had had books published with varying degrees of success by the sound of it. Anyway, everyone seemed very nice but my nose felt like it was about to explode and I didn’t really feel like “networking” so, during lunch, I went round Bath. I do like Bath. And I didn’t spend any money – well not so’s you’d notice. I actually did need those earrings.

We also made ourselves watch “Leaving Neverland”. This was the account by two men about the sexual assaults they say they suffered from Michael Jackson when they were children. In the end, I suppose, it is only their word and Mr Jackson is not here to defend himself. However, their stories did ring true and I think most of us used to wonder about all the children that were around him. It was a hard watch – both men described in explicit detail what had happened to them – but necessary I think. For me, there were questions around their mothers’ involvement. I just think that if a fully grown man had asked me to let my small son sleep in his bed for a week, I am pretty certain what the answer would be – no matter how good he was in The Jackson Five. It was properly shocking. When it had finished, you felt like you had been introduced to something truly wicked.

We also watched Free Solo. This was a film about climbing. However, it’s not just any old climbing – although that’s bad enough. Climbing Free Solo means climbing alone and without ropes. As far as I can see, you don’t retire from climbing free solo you seem to keep climbing until you fall off and die. At one point, the climber was asked by his distraught girlfriend why he carried on doing this. He replied something like “Most people are interested in prolonging the length of their lives – I have no interest in doing that – it is more about doing something that I love – even with all the risks.”

It’s not as if I would consider hanging off a mountain with or without ropes and, to be honest, I don’t think anyone wants to hear a human being sobbing that loudly, I just thought about weighing up how we live our lives against “risk”.

How much do we back off from, not try, let fear hold us back from because we are afraid – not that we will bounce down a 500 foot mountain in a highly undignified way – but that we will fail, or look stupid. Life is short and old age has taught me that it goes really fast. It is easy to just trundle along keeping life and people at arm’s length just to be on the safe side. It is, I think, important to find what you are supposed to do and be and then do it and be it.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. PS 90


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