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Beat The Beast Challenge

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Day 100 has seen 5 miles walked, a slow dawning quelling my frustration and uncertainty of yesterday, a doctor visited, 28 miles cycled up a beautiful glen, some shopping done, some more yummy cooking and no seizures!

I found yesterday hard. Very hard. I didn't say it at the time but I felt almost cheated after I had made such a public statement on Sunday that I had truly come to embrace God and God embraces me. That was a very bold statement to make but the events of Sunday made the realisation very clear for me and as I am telling you my story warts and all, good and bad, such momentous events need telling. More so because such an event is so powerful and all encompassing that it should be told. And when that comes so soon after such good news about the scan I really started to sense that we were turning the clock back and day by day beating the beast. So to have such a difficult day yesterday which I glibly blamed on a Malteser slice, many of which I had previously consumed with not even a whisper of seizure activity was a really hard one to take. Why was it if I had embraced God as my protector and shield and he me did I then have such a difficult day the very next day. Was he testing me and if so why? So much of yesterday just didn't make sense so I went on a long 3 mile walk past the castle and round the river to find some clear air to help me decipher what happened. Looking over the events of the last few days I came to see that I had perhaps become quietly over confident. I think therefore that the bottom line up front is very simple. As I realised how powerful the scan results and my experience in Church was it was as if I thought that I could take my foot off the peddle and just glide to a healing. I was at risk of straying off the path he had set me on in the challenge so he needed to send me a very strong message.

The hills!
The hills!

The lizard was the result of a very strong partial seizure manifesting itself as usual with me as an aura. I am not sure why a lizard but had been talking about snakes and reptiles with James at Breakfast prompted by something he had just read. Perhaps that recent conversation was in the forefront of my mind so when I was brought back to earth hard with a seizure and reminded of my frailty and mortality a lizard skittering along the ground seemed to be a wholly appropriate manifestation of the aura. It was an aura. I do not for a second believe or claim to have actually turned into a lizard but when your brain controls your thoughts and movements as well as the inputs from sight, smell, touch and taste it can immerse you so deeply in to a situation that you believe it to be entirely real. I felt like a lizard and moved and thought like a lizard. I believed I was a lizard for that short period of time of the seizure. It was very powerful and left me feeling weak, disorientated and confused. The cars slowing and staring as I waited to cross was probably entirely down to the narrowing of the road at the bridge and that I was stood in January in t- shirt and shorts, in the light rain, by the side of the road and covered in mud!! That all made perfect sense but what about this morphing through buildings? As I came out and up on to the main road from the river on the walk this morning I walked up the path and decided to turn again up bank street by the woodside Hotel to see if I can decipher what happened. I loved this little street as it was like a secret path over a secret burn that then spat you out on to Balkerach Street close to home. There is a right hand turn just after the burn which leads out on to Graham street and it has to be this little road that I turned into. It was not a sensible route to take but in my dazed and confused state it must be exactly what I did for whatever reason. Problem solved but the first part of the message was very clear. 'You are frail. You are mortal. Don't stray off the path on which I have set you'.

I am not sure what the misrecognition by the lady in the vet or all the cars flashing and waving at me as I started the run meant but I am sure about the lady from Dollar in the bus stop. I understood it very clearly when she implored me to keep fighting with such passion and emotion. It was actually quite scary at the time such was the strength of emotion and her grip on my arm as she fixed me with those misty eyes imploring me to fight. Archie fight. But I only now truly believe her to have been sent by God having reflected back. The lady appeared looking weak and confused using a shopping trolley from M&S as a stroller. But in hindsight there was nothing in the shopping trolley and to get to where I saw her or more likely where she found me from M&S she had to walk quite some distance over several main roads. Achievable but not in the state at which she presented herself. She didn't know what bus she was taking yet had found herself at exactly the right bus stance in just enough time to have me help her and introduce the challenge before she passes a message, abandons her shopping trolley and gets on to the bus without difficulty. She couldn't have read the flyer before stuffing it in her coat pocket because I had folded it for her in the way I do with the logos and strap line uppermost to try and encourage further reading when they get home. My name was not visible yet she knew my name! Of course she did. She was carrying a message from God.

It was very clear that I was to stick to the challenge and to keep fighting to Beat the Beast. To continue to walk quietly and let his quiet aura be my inspiration and to let my achievements in God’s set path of Beating the Beast be an inspiration for others.

Children all off to school I was off to the doctor. I had developed some sores on my upper inner cheeks. Very mild but becoming very irritating I was wondering if some mild seizure activity during the night might be perhaps causing them. The doctor had a good look and a catch up before prescribing a mild medicine to prevent infection and encourage healing. If it wasn’t getting better I was to go to the dentist to be checked as they are the mouth experts. A happy man I went back in to the waiting area to get changed for the bike ride. As I did so a lady in the waiting room mentioned how difficult life was becoming with all the poor weather and with everything else going on it was becoming almost hopeless. This reminded me of Hazam in Computer Division bemoaning the state of the world with very similar chimes to the lady in the waiting area. Hazam was normally such a positive sole shining like a beacon of light in the shop so his quiet depression on the outlook for the world stuck with me.

There are undoubtedly challenging times ahead of us driven by environmental and cultural/religious frictions but I am convinced that they can be overcome. As I travel around this great country I see so much hope hidden in all the great people I meet. People from many different countries, ethnic groups and faiths but in nearly every person I meet there is far more love, friendship and will to do good than I had ever appreciated before I started this journey. The answers we seek lie in the street, in nearly every street but we must keep our eyes, ears and mind open to find them and when we find them embrace those answers with our whole heart and mind. If we do that as a whole body united in one vision we will find a way to bring stability to our troubled world. So perhaps we need to bring stability rooted in love and friendship for our neighbours to our troubled streets first.

I set off on the bike. I needed some clear air to affirm my understanding of what I had come to realise. It was a day whose type is commonly referred to as Dreich. Little visibility and a light rain made for finding little inspiration but with not another sole to be seen anywhere on the 14 miles on route 765 from Doune to Stirling along the muddy farm tracks on the ridge between Doune and Dunblane, over the Allan river, passed Dunblane Cathedral and then up to Sherrifmuir before descending through a beautiful Glen in to Bridge of Allan, then drifting across the railway and on towards Cambuskenneth Abbey, then over the River Forth and in to Riverside and up to the city in the shadow of the Castle. Not a sole seen but plenty of time for thinking. I wasn’t sure how I was going to sustain the challenge over the coming months but I was jolly well going to find a way. Besides I was brimming full of good ideas to keep the challenge fresh and moving forward. I just needed to find a way to make it happen but as I reached Sainsburys to get some shopping I was pretty certain that a way would find me!!

The picture I took of Iain and Sheena today was the first of them both together for some time apparently
The picture I took of Iain and Sheena today was the first of them both together for some time apparently

I got lost in Sainsburys. It was enormous so had to ask for help to find the few things I needed but the assistant I asked could not have been more helpful and in effect became my personal shopper so I was done in a flash. As I paid for my goods I looked around me at the mass of stuff on the shelves and found myself being incredibly thankful to have all this food available when I considered the starving families in Syria. After paying for the food and packing it in my rucksack I went upstairs to the café for lunch. The view is wonderful over the Stirling hills, the castle and the Wallace Monument and again found myself being very thankful that I lived in such a beautiful, country so jam packed full of historical lessons to be learned and wonderful people. I had found some inner peace after the frustrations of yesterday. I grabbed my stuff, headed downstairs and got on the bike. I was nervous about the return journey as that glorious run down the glen into Bridge of Allan was going to be a painful uphill slog but was going to be good for me so I got on with it. Back through Riverside past Cambuskenneth Abbey and in to Bridge of Allan for the Glen and when I got there I found the uphill remarkably pain free. It was harder work than the flat but a steady and forgiving gradient through a glorious, peaceful glen with nothing but the hooting of an owl and the rushing of the water down the Glen for noise. I remembered a conversation I had had with James after he had wound up Heather earlier then at the table said something unpleasant but not on purpose but in an unguarded moment. He didn’t mean it but we talked about being careful to not build up a stack of regrets of things that you have said or done through life but can never take back. God can forgive you if you ask him to and repent but you will always carry them as a burden and with each blade of grass the burden becomes heavier and heavier. As I panted up through this beautiful Glen I thought of all the little things that I had done over the years. Nothing atrocious but lots of little unguarded or stupid moments from childhood onwards in to adulthood that I can never take back and was now carrying as a burden. As I thought though I came across a couple out walking and thought I might stop to try and take a picture of the Glen for you. But the spot wasn’t right. I asked them if there was a better spot and they pointed to a lovely old stone bridge clinging to the head of the Glen. I went up and as I fetched out my phone and fiddled about they walked up and I just got the feeling that I should tell them about the challenge. I took their photo and had a quick chat with them. They had been walking this Glen together for 30 years and were hugely interested in the challenge. The picture I took of them today was the first of them both together for some time apparently so I hope that they come and find me. Sheena and Iain if you do find me and would like a copy of the photo please message me with your email address and I will email it to you. I hope you enjoy your visit and stay with me on this journey. It is quite a ride!! We parted and I decided to stay and reflect on my burdens. I remembered my prayer card and got it out for a look. I knew that just the right prayer for this moment was on it and sure enough found it.

Dear Jesus, as you healed people long ago and gave them peace, please heal me now.
Please give me thy full forgiveness.
Help me to forgive myself.
Separate me from my sins, whether in thought or word or deed and let me know that you do not hold them against me.
Set me free from the burden of my sins and let thy peace flow into my mind, into my soul and into my body.
Please come into my life in order that I may have life so that over the next 100 days and more I can:
Believe in the Lord to renew my strength
Mount up with wings as Eagles
Run like a Deer and not be weary
Continue to walk the long path and not faint.

Amen.

I put the prayer card back in my pocket. Mounted the bike and kicked on. As I neared the top I saw the National Tree the Scots Pine with their lovely silhouettes on the horizon and alongside them Sheena and Iain still walking. A quick photo and then caught up Sheena and Iain who I passed with a cheery farewell and a cry of enjoy your wine this evening!!

In to Dunblane and up on to the muddy ridge for the trip home to Doune. 28 miles completed, frustrations settled and peace found.

Georgie taken for a shorter 1 mile walk. Mexican Sausage Tacos cooked much to the children’s delight. One of their favourites and a great way to get lots of lettuce and red pepper in to them!! Sadly no telegram from the Queen for my 100th Challengeday but the next 100 days are going to be even better than the last. I can feel it!!