Half A Lifetime Ago

Camp Rockmont, Black Mountain, NC

July 4th 1995

Looking Back. Use it as a power of good. Find your hidden strengths

I have spent far too long in the past few years reminiscing about the past, looking at it wistfully
“Where have all the good times gone?”
Such thinking is painful, destructive, unnecessary, and easy.

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But there is hope. You should know that everything changes. Including us. Definitely including me. In looking back, when you try hard enough, you can see the reflection of a greater future to come. You can find your hidden strengths.

When I look back now I see someone with dedication, drive, vision, a laser focus, commitment, diligence, persistence, tenacity, a stoic resolve.
Would I have labelled myself as any of those things 23 years ago?
Hell no, back then the 23 year old me thought that my actions and attitudes were pretty normal. Were the strengths really hidden, or did I just forget I had them? Or had I simply not needed them? I hadn’t had to work hard at school or uni, and the gradual drop in grades from A’s to C’s, to E’s to 2:2’s showed that I had just about got away with it, but only just. Maybe I just didn’t want it?

But I really wanted to do Camp America, like I REALLY wanted to.
I had to do it.
It was in my bones, as you will read later. It was my destiny.

Once I knew that, I applied, but the deadline for the ’95 intake had already passed. I knew the chances of finding a post were slim, but I had nothing to lose, what will be will be, I thought.

 I took a day off work to visit an exhibition, chatted to a few folk, then hit it off with Jon. He liked my application, apparently it read nicely, and I was offered the post of a lifeguard. It was a Christian Boys camp, not exactly what I was looking for, but the brochure looked cool.

“I’ll do it”

SO I focussed, I started swimming four times a week, it was hard work, but I knew I had to push myself, I would not allow myself to fail. The timed swim was something mad like a half mile, but I smashed it. I lived and breathed it, worked hard on my drills, studied my rescue techniques, swam, swam, and swam again, and after those two weekends I had passed.

There is a lesson in all this

It is easy to look back wistfully. It takes guts to look back and search for the truth, to search for the lessons.

I have avoided that for fear of tarnishing the memory, but he opposite has happened. My memory of this times is clearer now than ever. I am grateful for the opportunities I had, the decisions I made, the people I met. I am grateful it happened then, and I am grateful it happened to me. I learned an incredibly powerful lesson today.

By believing in myself, and seeing what I have achieved, I can make anything happen that I want to.

My Favourite Memory

Which is cool, because today is the 4th of July

There are so many moments from that summer but one of the most special, and specific to today, was being asked to be standard bearer for the climax of the evening, the fireworks display.

The far side of the lake was in complete darkness. We could faintly hear music, and the fireworks started, occasional flashes of bright coloured a sharp crack! Despite all the bangs the water had a stillness, a calm, to it that made it feel like we were drifting across glass. I was kneeling in the prow, the flag pole pushed forwards like the scene from Iwo Jima, the Stars And Stripes fluttering above our heads. 

We were heading towards the shoreline as time seemed to stand still. The fireworks were reaching their crescendo, and I was surrounded by fireworks, sparkling like a galaxy of multi-coloured starts, enveloping us like a gentle fall of snow. The effect was doubled by the reflection of it all in the lake. It was like a colourful version of the scene in Apocalypse Now when the explosion as going off all around.

I like to think that Jimi was playing The Star Spangled Banner, but that bit probably didn’t happen.

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