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Just Keep Skiing...

Just Keep Skiing...

It’s an old cliché that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” I find this saying motivating. However, I find it more interesting to think about what leads me to take that first step on a journey, and once I have, what keeps me going?

During my recent 24 Hour Ski for Mental Health fundraiser in support of our local Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mobile Mental Health and Addictions Clinic, I found myself with plenty of time to contemplate my own motivation, as well as discuss it with others who joined me along the way.

Early in the ski I was having a discussion with Paul Wilkinson, a long-time local skier, cyclist and father to two of my colleagues here at the shop.  He was telling stories of his early days cross country skiing, learning to wax skis with his father, the smell of the wax room and the memories that came with it. Paul also shared stories of when he felt at his best in his athletic performance, the fastest he had ever been.  It turns out that Paul’s best performances came the year that his father died.  When I asked Paul why he believed he was so fast in that year the best explanation he had for his performance was that his father must have been pushing him from behind. 

Paul's story of his father moved me deeply. Thoughts of who may be pushing me from behind motivated me to keep going through the long chilly night, and I believe Paul's story will stay with me for a long time. On this journey of fundraising for mental health, my motivation was born of the stories in my own family. My cousin, Steven, and my uncle, Michael, both lost their battles with mental illness. Growing up, my father struggled with bipolar disorder. It is also those folks I encounter in Downtown Peterborough, struggling daily with addictions and their mental health, who drive me to make change in this community.  For you, it could be anyone: family, friends, even a stranger.  Our memories of those passed, our interactions with those still here; it is those that drive and motivate us to take the first step on a long journey and to keep going. To use another cliche; “we stand on the shoulders of giants”.

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