You know those days – usually on a weekend – when you wake up and think “screw it. I’m going for a run”? And you bounce out of bed, throw on your favourite Nikes, pick a suitable soundtrack and you’re off, feeling full of vitality, full of life. You’ve gone for a difficult route today but hey, you’re young, you’re ready. You can do this.
You’re into the first kilometre now. Jesus, you should have stretched. Your muscles are already protesting. Then comes that moment before the second wind when you’re telling yourself you’ll just skip pudding for a few days instead – who the hell would put themselves through this ridiculousness?! You’re stumbling over rocks and roots, breathing sharply as a stitch creeps its way up your side.
Well, ridiculous though it may seem, something tells you to keep going. Something tells you to hang on in there – the reward is great. There’s that second wind, you’ve pushed through the first part, defeated the stitch and you’re lifting your knees higher as you smile to yourself. You’re alone on this route, with only your willpower and probably an excessively exuberant playlist to keep you in check.
The second part seems a little more fun, as you ease yourself into the stride of things. No more stumbling. No more protesting. But you know that great bloody hill is coming. You know it’s going to be murder.
Here we go. Lord have mercy! Turn the music up, glance down at your abs (or lack thereof) for one last dose of motivation. Push on, push on. Keep your head up. You can see the top of the hill now, through watery eyes. You’re fully aware that you probably look like a dehydrated rhino stampeding towards a watering hole, but in your mind right now you embody everything that this challenge is. You have no doubt that you’re about to set your own personal record. The burn in your thighs is searing as you climb higher and higher, edging past other joggers, sweat pouring from your brow…
Stop. Breathe. Turn around.
Below you you can see your entire route. You can see that dirt track you stumbled on at the start – a seemingly menial task now that you know what you can do. You feel stronger, mentally and physically, just looking at what you’ve accomplished.
– I just went on a four-year run, across two countries, three subject matters, spending more hours than I ever care to calculate in exam halls, questioning my abilities, my future and my sanity, meeting hundreds of new faces, learning the ins and outs of countless life stories, being proud, confused, humbled, homesick, scared, depressed, loved, challenged, relied upon and a million other things that I’m too emotional to think about right now.
But I did it. And I’m standing at the top of the hill, looking back at where I started, and at how much I’ve grown and how much I’ve achieved.
When you learn Pythagoras’ Theorem in school, it’s not because you are ever going to put it to use at any point in your life. Learning Pythagoras’ Theorem is about more than triangles and protractors. It’s about getting to grips with something you have never come across before, being utterly confused by it, practising it again and again until you know it off by heart, and then applying that knowledge in the right manner. That is what all of school is about. That is what all of life is about.
I’ve said this so many times, but as I’ve now done a whole freaking Law with French degree I’ll just say it one last time: my degree has taught me so much. But so little of that has been about Law.
Bonne nuit, ma chérie