I don’t often feel compelled to write about somebody else’s sufferings but reading an article on Victoria Pendleton’s recent suicidal thoughts after her failed attempt at climbing Everest, struck me as unutterably sad. Sad because it summed up so much about the negative aspects of the world we live in (and there is still plenty to be positive about). Nothing I’m going to say is new or radical. I just feel like saying it!
For me, it’s about extremism. It has invaded everything we do, from sports to political thinking. The binary world of black and white, right and wrong, success and failure. The pursuit of something to all ends. We live in a world of heroes and villains, where in order to like ourselves we must be the hero. It is a culture that is ingrained in us from the minute we pop into the world and it is getting worse, not better. We judge ourselves and others with an increasingly impossible set of standards.
None of us are really 100% hero or 100% villain, we are a crazy mix of everything. Sometimes we succeed sometimes we fail, most of us can be lazy, stupid, thoughtless, deceitful, conniving, inspirational, grateful, generous and loving all in one day, but we only admit to the ‘good’ bits. By doing so, we have unwittingly created a world where it is easier and more attractive for people to pursue extreme physical challenges and mental doctrines than taking on the herculean challenge of liking ourselves ‘warts an all’.
I’m not saying this from a lofty position, floating on a yoga mat, with all my chakras in perfect alignment (!), I understand how hard it is because I find it difficult myself. In fact, if I had been born 15 years later, I would probably be as extreme as everyone else in that generation. I truly hope that VP befriends and grows to love all her demons and conquers her own life. This challenge belongs to everyone. We are all in it together.