Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Social Support - Two Days To Go

This is the strangest week.
My training taper has ended up becoming a transient switch from on to off. I've been staying in bed until as late as seven some mornings. I can watch television or read again without falling asleep. And instead of pounding the pathways I've been hammering the keyboard. 
During the past month, as training peaked, I was too occupied and tired to do anything about keeping fundraising on track. I had to raise about a thousand pounds per month, and as that slipped, I comforted myself with the thought that I'd raise more as the race approached. And there's always the way that donations lag a bit behind the event.
But with no running to do this week, as I wait agonisingly for my resting heart rate to fall to something normal and my left ankle to stop hurting, I've had time to think about fundraising. I've been able to transcribe a couple of sections of my interview with Rachel McRitchie from Number 6. And I've had time to step beyond social media broadcasting and directly target donors.
The response has been heartening. When asked, people I know, friends, family members, and colleagues, past and present, more often than not, come good and make a donation. 
With two days to go, the total stands at £4,660. It feels as though I'm going go be setting off on Saturday knowing that I've reached the target.
I've realised today that I'd never have caused this much to be raised if I hadn't had a target. I'd have put out my call for help and been grateful for what came back, but never actually approached individuals, or in the workplace jargon that owes everything to Levi Stubbs and the Four Tops, reached out to them.
I've also realised that what's driving me is this number. Anticipating the sight of those digits rolling over until there is a five followed by four zeroes is generating a surge of dopamine in my brain. I am motivated very precisely to see that happen before nine o'clock on Saturday morning when I and 150 others leave Glasgow's Ruchill Park for the longest run of many of our lives.
But these insights are nothing to the biggest epiphany of all. I'll have 150 running comrades on the day, but I also have about the same number of comrades who are doing this with me specifically. I'm not the disconnected emotionless Aspie of cliche, nor the lonely long-distance runner of post-war fiction. I am instead the spearhead of a fleet of helpers, and with every click on my JustGiving page I have felt more and more emotionally connected, to people I know now, people I am just getting to know and people I've known closely and am now cordially remote from. 
This is no solo flight. Like Gagarin or Armstrong, famous for being projected furthest, fastest, first, I am just the most visible embodiment of a huge team effort. A team has give and take for all its members. I'd chosen to run this race before I'd decided to raise funds, and because I've created this association between both activities, the kindness and generosity of everyone who's give will propel me forward, make it harder to drop out and energise me to keep going. That's my take from this.
Help has come in many forms. There were the specially-recruited exemplars like Doctor Who's Steven Moffat and his greatest-by-orders-of magnitude contribution, and the elected politicians. There were the people who are with me every step of the way in everything I do. New partners, like my colleagues in my still-new workplace. Old friends with whom I'm seldom in touch but who jumped to help. Friends and colleague of Helen, who barely know me themselves, but take the fact that I'm her husband as a  seal of honour. And cheerleaders who've not only given, but spread the word.
It's made me feel rather emotional several times so far, and I know I've going to spill over a few times on the day.
I'm not alone. I can ask for help and I'll receive it. I'm connected. We spend so much of our lives telling ourselves the story that we're alone and separate. How precious to be reminded, again and again, demonstrably, uncontrovertibly, that that isn't so. 
Thanks for coming with me.

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