I have no idea when next I will have the opportunity to do my laundry! Just a few days ago I was folding and packing my very familiar clothes into my suitcase when it occurred to me that I didn’t know this.
After my last competitive outing in Dubai and Qatar, I visited Michigan for some focused training. Now, by the time you read this I expect to be in Washington DC trying to get Russian and Chinese visas to prepare me for a journey, that, if goes as planned, will have me roaming from one competition to the next through Russia, Cyprus, China, Japan, Singapore, Trinidad, Mexico and culminating finally in Qatar in December.
The sad truth is, given our current local limitations that I have struggled with my entire career, it would be delusional to believe that I could remain at home, training in a vacuum with realistic expectations of being great. Hopefully this won’t be an issue for those following behind me.
So, like a true nomad I am forced to wander in search of greener pastures, carrying with me everything I own and need. This lifestyle has streamlined and simplified my life down to its essentials that fit in one suitcase and a backpack.
If you get to know me you quickly realise that I wear the same clothes quite frequently, I don’t care; I like them. Less for me has become more. There is less to worry about and not much to clutter and confuse. Nobody can steal what I don’t have, and it can’t get lost. These days music, photos and books no longer take up whole rooms with shelves of albums, books and CDs. These precious accompaniments now travel weightlessly with me. The airline travel weight restriction of 50 lbs for my suitcase provides a healthy curbing to my materialistic desires. Life over things!
For most of the world travel is still a luxury, and I am grateful for the hospitality and invitations to these upcoming events. However, this is not a vacation, and I am not a tourist, nor am I exactly a business traveller. This is a mission that is so much deeper. It sounds glamorous, but the truth is that this journey will be grueling, surely testing the limits of my mental, emotional and physical endurance. Unlike other teams, I must handle everything alone and compete to exhaustion while jetlagged repeatedly.
Why do I do it? Honestly I love the challenge and right now this is where my hard-acquired skill set and interests converge. I want to be an active participant in life. If I lead a cautious and quiet life I wouldn’t have much to share here or remember.
Like a river that yearns to reach its ultimate potential of becoming the ocean, I am flowing down the path of least resistance, swirling around obstacles towards hopefully another podium finish at the Rio Olympics. There are times when I can feel myself caught up in the effortless slipstream of the flow, much in the way that you can’t see gravity but can feel its force acting upon you with every step. Like a river, my life is never allowed to remain stagnant and is constantly reflecting its surroundings as it flows through varied landscapes on this path to the sea. Water flows to the lowest point and in this manner I strive to stay low and humble so that everywhere I go warmth and goodwill will continue to flow towards me. Keeping the focus on the process where it should be and not on the outcome, makes this about the journey itself and not the destination.
When you travel this much, you say a lot of “thank yous”, but you also say a lot of “good-byes”. The latter is something I hope I never get used to. But, its better than never having had to say anything.
Through sport, I have found that despite nationality, race, gender, creed, religion or class we as human beings are more similar than we are different. We transcend the brainwashing of us vs them that is still ubiquitous. I have always encountered a mutual respect with competitors that arises out of a similar lifestyle, shared hopes and fears, identical goals, obstacles and challenges that allow for the foundation of quick, profound and lasting friendships.
Through this amphibious, modern nomadic lifestyle I have worked the dream all over the globe. I fondly remember a few good spots that I need to revisit, and others that I know now to avoid. Everyone wants to believe that their spot is the best, and of course you can’t argue that point. The truth is the more of the world you see the harder it is to choose just one place. If it continues to get smaller at this rate we might be able to live in more than one place soon, if there is still space.