Over the last week or so I’ve had the incredibly humbling experience of spending some one-to-one time with a friend in hospital.
A couple of weeks ago he fell 45ft from a tree at work.
He is a tree surgeon and this was a freak accident. It’s still not totally clear how it happened, but by some complete miracle he is still alive and, despite a few broken vertebrae, not paralysed.
As a result of a strong safety helmet his head is totally unscathed, his body, however, is a different story, and I don’t think I need elaborate much but to say that he fell from the equivalent of a five storey building and landed feet first.
While I can’t begin to imagine my own response to being in such straits, (not terribly good I’d imagine, given my response to just the most feeble of injuries), he remains as strong, positive, chatty and supportive as ever.
Over the last few visits I’ve been incredibly privileged to be able to spend time listening to his advice on training. We talk about climbing, running, physio, diet and nutrition. He has been telling me about trail running in New Zealand, the marathons and ultras he has run and his plans to get back into running as part of his rehabilitation.
He has set me off daydreaming about running through forests and along hills and valleys in New Zealand, on routes that take days to complete, of being woken by bird song, of campfires and mountain huts and of avocados that are so big and rich and creamy and totally delicious.
This weekend, when my hip and knees have been playing up and when I’ve found myself grumpy and frustrated by the pain I’ve been thinking about him a lot. I’ve been inspired by his positivity and how he can make even a pretty major series of injuries just seem like a minor blip.
I’ve been thinking about how important it is to look after your body, like he has, so that when injury or illness strikes it is in the strongest possible state to fight back and recover. And I’ve thought about the importance of working with, not against your body, on loving and forgiving yourself your shortcomings and focusing on improvement and development.
When things like this happen it also reminds me how fragile we all are and how important and valuable friendship is.
I am so incredibly privileged to be surrounded by such inspiring, interesting, kind and wonderful people. Sometimes when we are stressed, or busy, or lost in work it’s easy to forget how lucky we are and it’s only when the thought or the possibility of someone being taken away from us emerges that we are reminded of what really matters.
Whether it’s going for an early morning run together, snuggling up to watch a movie, lounging in the spa, sharing music recommendations, seeing an exhibition, cooking supper or just going for a cup of tea, appreciate and enjoy time with your friends this week.