For the majority of people the tests that they do at school are the easiest they will ever experience. Real tests are much harder – they are not something a person agrees to enter, there is no preparation and, seemingly, they are not something that they have a natural aptitude for.
There is an advert for a cancer charity on tv at the moment that says that ‘Cancer is the biggest test that anyone will probably every face’ – I’m not so sure. Surely the test comes afterwards to the husband who has to raise his children by himself and try to explain to his children why the world is still beautiful. And what about the test of a daughter of a high-achieving mother who has to find her own niche and come to feel proud of the person she is. Or 21 year old, whose father was an alcoholic and whose mother was not around much, who, aged 24, for the first time in his life gets a job (as a carpenter’s apprentice). These are the real tests of life – everyone faces them – they don’t have to be dramatic or grand but they are true stories of tests of strength of character, courage and determination.
As I reflect on my life to-date I now see that I have had big challenges that I wasn’t even aware of as I was going through them. I’ve had chronic depression, feeling suicidal all day long, feelings of worthlessness and I’ve had to really figure out, with the help of others, why it is that I feel that way. But perhaps the biggest test is in-front of me – to find a resolution to my pain.
So I need to look for role models for those that have achieved great things to enable me to aim high and stay on track. With Rio 2016 coming to a close the Olympians are an obvious choice as role models who take seemingly impossible tests. However, I wouldn’t choose my Olympian role models because they have won gold (although in contradiction to what I just said one of them did) but because of the challenges that they faced in getting towards the competition. My role models are Michael Phelps and the whole of the IOC Refugee team – a team as the name implies of athletes going through heartache and trauma . Michael Phelps, the American Olympic gold medallist swimmer, has ADHD, had trouble with inattention and couldn’t sit still in class. His teacher once told him that he would ‘never be able to focus on anything’. But he did – presumably with a lot of bumps along on the way – but he did it anyway. And everyone in the IOC Refugee team is a winner as far as I am concerned. Each has their own story of trauma and heartache but yet each has somehow ‘miraculously’ survived to give others a sense of hope. They are role models because of their back story and although their achievement is amazing it is where they have come from which makes them inspirational.
But actually, for a true Test Taker role model I am looking for more than that – I am looking for the way in which they approached their test and for that my models are Abraham (together with Sarah), Ghandi and Mandela.
Even before the stopwatch was invented Abraham undertook ten tests. As an example – he was told by G-d to get up and leave his home and go to a place he had never heard of. Now this isn’t – at first they were asked to go, they thought about it for a bit, then they got used to the idea, and then they did a bit of research and thought about how they would earn a living and then decided that they would take the challenge. This is one day being asked to leave everything you had ever known and (in a social media/ plane/ media free world) get up and going because you were asked to. Like all biblical characters, Abraham was by no means perfect, but upon his enormous tests he didn’t have a nervous breakdown in the middle and say that he was giving up and he was going to go back home and that he just couldn’t cope. He had faith that things were happening for the best and he didn’t question it.
The only two other people I can think of who are like this are Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. They both had huge tests in their life (maybe not ten, but they were huge nevertheless) , they weren’t perfect, but they managed to achieve their goals with dignity, courage and grace (I would tell you more about their lives – I have read both of their autobiographies, but I can’t remember a thing).
I know that in this horrible test that I am facing I am not approaching it in even a tenth of a fingertips of Avraham’s, Mandela’s or Ghandi’s way. Or even those Phelps and the refugee IOC team. I may go on about gratitude and miracles but I wobble, fall down, get up, whinge and then fall down again day after day. But people like Avraham, Sarah, Mandela and Ghandi will always be the people that I, and many others, shall look up to because in their tests of life they persevered and came through stronger and wiser.
In other news: You guessed it – the reason I am withering on again about nothing is because there isn’t much news (isn’t life so often ‘nothing happening, nothing happening, something, nothing happening, nothing happening etc). After the ‘It’s not what who know but who you know’ approach failed because this doctor did not want to see me, I tried the Boris Johnson (our very quirky and quite funny Foreign Minister) approach in the hope that I could see my October doctor sooner. Boris Johnson said, ‘The dreadful truth is that when people come to see their MP they have run out of better ideas’ so I wrote to my MP and asked him if I could see my October doctor earlier and he said something like ‘I will do what I can do but this decision is out of my jurisdiction’. I have however finally got the naturopath’s medication. It tastes like nail varnish!! But I don’t know about how it impacts upon me as yet. I’ll just have to try it out and see what happens. Also, just to let you know that I’m not going to be writing for the next two weeks. Unfortunately my mind travels with me when I travel, but other than that I’m sure I will have a good time. Hope you have a good break whilst I am away xx