Roger Bannister demonstrates endurance

I haven’t posted for a while because of the overload of information on the internet about how to cope with Lockdown.  I don’t know about you but I have been overwhelmed by the social media noise telling me that I must  – learn a language, keep fit every day, get into baking etc.

Initially, when the Lockdown was announced we were required to cope with the change in our lifestyle.  It took a while to work out how we were going to live in this different way. We panicked, we coped and we got into a groove with it.

For me it meant an adjustment in my life in many areas some in my personal life such as not seeing those close to me, missing out on planned social events and not being able to visit to put an arm around a distressed friend.  Compared to many, my adjustment has been relatively easy.  In my Practice it has meant that I work with some clients over the internet but some people are just not able to access the privacy that entails and so I have felt it hard not to be able to support them in their isolation other than by email sometimes.

What now?

The latest news is that we have flattened the curve, that the number of cases is reducing and that Lockdown is working.  Although welcomed, this news has created another anxiety – how will we emerge from this lockdown – what will we be allowed to do in the first stages? We are all anxious to find out what the Government is going to announce this week.  Those people who have been furloughed will be anxious to find out if they can get back to work, parents looking after children will want to know if the children go back to school so they can stop being teachers, as well as parents and get back to work.  We all have lots of questions.

When we started the lockdown we were in shock, we got used to coping – now we can see the beginning of the end.  Now I think we are being asked not only to cope but to endure.

After finishing fourth in the 1500 metres at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Roger Bannister was ready to give up athletics. But he set himself a new objective – to be the first man to run a sub-four-minute mile.  The thinking by doctors at the time was that his lungs would burst and he would die in the attempt.

On 6th May 1954, Roger Bannister made history when he broke the record for sprinting the mile – he ran a mile in 3:59:04. An incredible feat that no one had managed to accomplish before him.

Apart from the obvious training he needed to do, he did it by focusing not on the winning line, not on running through the tape but on running to a point beyond the tape.  He had to endure in order to achieve his goal.

To use this as a metaphor – remember what we are running for – why we are staying home – so that we can protect our NHS for sure and ensure that we have enough resources to treat the people who become seriously ill from Covid-19 – but we are also staying home to protect ourselves, our ability to be healthy and to work, to raise our children and to get back to our normal way of life.

What does it take to endure?

We have to continue in the same state.  To carry on.  We have to remain firm under suffering or misfortune without yielding.  We must not give in.

How do we endure?

It requires acceptance and patience.  We might have to dig deep within ourselves to find a place where we accept that we cannot change this situation by ourselves.  We are reliant on the collective sustainability and endurance for the good of all.  We need to call on our patience.  We crave certainty and uncertainty is stressful so we have a great need to know what will happen and when.

We don’t.  We don’t yet know how, and we don’t know when, lockdown will be eased and what will happen next.  Holding out and accepting, in this case, is enduring.

Knowing that this situation will end – as it will – will help us to endure.  Although he did not know the outcome, Roger Bannister knew that he would eventually end the race – he focussed on the point beyond the end.

Don’t run to the tape – run to a place beyond it.  Don’t focus on what we will be able to do when the lockdown is relaxed – focus on the end game – focus on your ultimate goal – to return to your normal life, knowing that you will have learned from the experience.

What does endurance teach us?

This time of endurance through the tough times will teach us many things as part of the process.  The learnings will be different for everyone.  It may be a new appreciation for people, things or situations, it may be a realisation that some things are unnecessary.  It will be personal.

We will be able to apply our learnings in many ways in the future that we cannot imagine now.  It will take time to recover, some more time than others.  We will be stronger after this experience.

We will endure.

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