Monday, 23 February 2009

Cycling through Adversity

I’m feeling somewhat virtuous this week. Positively holier-than-thou actually. The reason is that my husband is working in Baku for a week. (The geeks among you will recognise Baku as the Star Trek planet where the people never fall ill or get old. Unfortunately the Baku he has gone to is actually the capital of Azerbaijan.) His flight left and returned at such an unearthly hour that I refused to drive him to Heathrow – with the children in the back seat, of course, you try getting a babysitter at 4 a.m. on a Sunday - and with no convenient shuttles, flyers, buses or trains the only solution was for him to take the family car and park it at the airport while he was away. So we are carless. Or car free, as I prefer to say.

I’ve dusted off my bicycle, put the babyseat on the back, and we are cycling everywhere together like a Center Parcs commercial, the wind blowing our hair out behind us and the children laughing as they try to run over squirrels and reflect on their negative carbon footprints. This afternoon we will be cycling to the swimming pool, if I can figure out how to carry four sets of swimsuits and towels in my bicycle basket. On the face of it, a week without a car is a major inconvenience, even a problem. But I’m a born optimist who sees hurdles as challenges to be overcome.

Everyone handles adversity differently, and many people find their challenges so overwhelming that they have entirely lost the ability to see any way out, or any positives in their situation. For them, a week without a car is not an opportunity to get healthy and have a ready-made excuse not to attend meetings, but a disaster. If they even had a bike it would be discovered to have two flat tyres and faulty brakes, and it would rain every time they wanted to ride it somewhere. This is not merely the difference between an optimist and a pessimist; many people have become so stressed or worn down by their situation that they no longer have the ability to “make the best of it”.

One person’s minor inconvenience can, for another, be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I’m welcoming my current challenge, but the support of family, friends and organisations such as LawCare can be so vital for those times when we encounter one challenge too many.

LawCare’s free and confidential helpline is available 9-7.30 Monday-Friday, 10-4 weekends, on:
0800 279 6888 (Solicitors, Law Students and Legal Executives in England and Wales)
0800 279 6869 (Solicitors, Advocates and Law Students in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man)
0800 018 4299 (Barristers, Clerks and Judges in England and Wales)
1800 991801 (Solicitors in the Republic of Ireland)

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