Wendy Killoran created a furore of activity on a UK kayaking site this week. Readers had picked up on an innocent comment made regarding the need to fulfil sexual desires on extended paddling trips. Of course Wendy is famous for her (amongst others) 2700Km solo navigation of Newfoundland through the summer of 2006. I read many of the "boyish" comments on the rivers guidebook with surprise. Wendy had written 10 paragraphs in her blog and the hive of activity surrounded a whole 3-5 lines that happened to suggest "self gratification".
What most readers seemed to miss were her earlier comments regarding the bane of her own unhappiness in not finding a compatible life partner and her desire for a companion posessing the same free spirit. That was the one thing that really stood out in her post for me. I found myself admiring the level of openess with an admission that I felt came straight from the heart.
I sometimes wonder why I write this blog. I don’t do it religiously, only adding my spam to the virtual ether when something stirs me, or more generally when I’ve had a trip away somewhere. More generally I use this site to show off some photos to family and friends. This blog ; well I think I do that for myself, it’s my on-line diary of a part, but not all, of my life and it has been nice for me to look back this week and see what I was up to this time last year. The fact that "strangers" get a port hole into my little world doesn’t really bother me. I could set the blog to be private, but for the past 20 years at least, I’ve held the view that exposing ones weaknesses or personal thoughts for all to see is actually a sign of inner strength.
I went through a lot of my school years hanging back, to scared to perform because of the fear of ridicule from my peers. It was only a lot later in life, through my involvement in mountain sports, that I actually gained that "life confidence" to get out and achieve my own personal goals. Because of my past school experience I like to think that now I always encourage people to reach their own goals; at whatever rung of the ladder they are standing on, we can’t all be gold medal winners. I also tend to get pretty defensive (some might say openly hostile) with anyone who tries to point score or belittle someone elses efforts so as to make themself appear "cool".
Some colleagues recently got news of the fact that I had a blog. In the derogatory manner and "ribbing" way that they (and I ) are accustomed to they had plenty of ammunition with which to "take the mick" and naturally I became the subject of their amusement for a few days. Taking the Mick is OK when there is no malicious intent.
Wendy’s response to her critics was brilliantly written and echoed my own thoughts precisely. It’s takes minimal effort to judge, criticize and belittle another. It takes minimal effort to behave like a lemming and follow the crowd.
…and yet it takes strength of character and a willingness to push the envelope in order to offer a conflicting opinion or more generally to step out and follow ones dream.