• New year: new goals: new me

    It seems that as a species we human beings like new beginnings; we'll start a new diet on a Monday, we'll spring clean, well, in the spring, we'll wait for January to set resolutions and goals. We are always looking for that day, month, time of year when we can start afresh; wipe the slate clean, atone for our past mistakes/sins by behaving impeccably in the future (I can eat this extra slice of cake now because next week, I will be almost monk-like in my approach to food). We forgive ourselves our hedonistic approach to life because of course, we will behave so well in the future that we can get away with anything now. We forget the consequences.

    But of course having that extra slice of cake today doesn't mean you won't want any cake next week. Chances are you'll still want more. Chances are you'll still eat more.

    And the trouble with these goals is that they are never just in their own right: I'll sort my finances out, or I'll lose a stone, become: I'll be happier when I don't keep overspending, I'll be happier when I'm skinnier. But why do we keep adding emotional ties to our goals? Why does being happy rely on our size or our bank account? We might feel more secure knowing that our finances are straight, even if that means knowing we can't afford everything under the sun (and how often have we heard that money doesn't make you happy?), and we might feel healthier and have more energy if we lose a bit of weight, but is our happiness, or our right to happiness really determined by external factors? Or is our ability to feel and to connect just an intrinsic part of being human? And as such should be celebrated and encouraged? Descartes suggested that "I think therefore I am", but perhaps it is more "I feel because I am alive, I am here". Sometimes thinking and reasoning belittle where we are and how we feel. Sometimes, emotions and events are beyond comprehension; sometimes being human is beyond imagination.

    In my practice I am intrigued by the relationship between art, sport and science. At the heart of it, we want to figure out who we are, why we are here; does our life have purpose? have we 'wasted' our life? Like all artists I think that art is necessary as it helps us to examine those questions; it helps us to throw a new perspective on things we think we know; it helps us to look at the world afresh (like a new goal). Sport helps us to feel; it reminds us that we are alive, that we do feel, that we can achieve (everyone's goals can be different: my achievements may be your training strolls, but they are mine nevertheless). Science takes a human being and examines them, creating a set of numbers, a collection of data that attempts to answer questions and find answers. By combining art and science those numbers start to become alive again, we can see how science allows us to find a new perspective, to understand what we thought we knew, to learn what we didn't know, we can begin to find the human within the data.

    And with that understanding we can create new goals! I know from tests at the Human Performance Unit that I can increase my endurance by running at a certain heart rate. I know from previous experience that if I want to drop a few pounds I need to eat less food.

    I'm starting to learn that in order to feel loved I must first love myself. I'm learning that some things don't need to be connected to an emotion: I don't need something external to happen in order to feel happy or loved. My emotions, that intrinsic part of being human, have an internal source: they come from within me.

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