For a couple of years running I have taken part in a charity 25k walk up onto the Great Wall of China, back down onto some village areas and then along some back roads and back up over some high rocky hills and this has been a life changing experience.
The atmosphere and the sense of community has always been the most enjoyable part of the walk. As a foreigner I am treated with great curiosity and friendship and the other athletes give me encouragement by the bucket full. Everyone will spend time to check in with me and often align their stride with me to walk alongside and then have a conversation so that they can practice their English.
It is always a great conversations when they find out I am from Scotland as for many people in China the UK a country and they have very much a version the UK that is a picture based on London and that is about it.
I have seen amazing places on the walk and not many people from my home town of Glasgow get to talk about an experience like this. I would recommend it to anyone and I am sure this is very much like any community sporting event, like the New York marathon, Scottish Highland Games or even like any event which results in where many people congregate to enjoy a moment or an experience.
I find that people always support each other and I have always believed people are truly positive and that they love to be part of a group activity where they feel the power of the many. I know I do. This is no exception. It is exhilarating to be part of it.
I have to say, it is two of the best days so far that I have had while living and working here in China.
This year I am doing the same 25k walk but having had a shoulder injury for the last 6 months, I have hardly trained and I am going into this amazing experience with some concern and apprehension.
The concern is misplaced. I know I will be ok to walk the distance and with some pain killers the shoulder will hold up just fine. I do worry about the condition I might be in after the event and because of that I am holding back my excitement for this years walk.
This has got me thinking about how many times I have over worried about the possible outcome of things that I have been involved in the past. How I have tried to think forward to what will happen and in most cases I have always cautioned onto the worst case scenario.
The truth of the matter is that it has never ever been even close to the worst case scenario. I asked some friends about this and they have said they do the same. I think this is human nature and maybe something that harkens away back into when we were roaming the land in search for food while constantly worrying about being the food. We wold think the worst.
The lesson I am taking from the feeing that I have now is not to sweat the small stuff and I have discovered a great phrase that I have heard here in China;
‘Don’t believe everything you think’Buddhism
I know that the people around me will keep me going and I will not set the pace for myself that I had set the last couple years where I was competing with myself, in my head. This year I am part of a team of four so this will help keep me grounded. Previously I had set challenging goals and I set off at a pace that suited me and the sense of accomplishment having met my goals was clearly, for me, very satisfying.
This year the goal I will set will be different.
This year my goal will be to enjoy the moment and I have set the result I want to acheive is that simple feeling of ‘happiness’.
Nothing more. Nothing Less.