So compassion might be a weird topic to write about as an athlete…but you know me, always talking about the ‘feeling things’ and the lessons learnt on the trail.
So it was somewhere along the Goerge Sound Route, deep In Fiordland, February 2022, when he had an epiphany – and by association so did I.
‘You’re doing the best that you can aren’t you?’
The question came out of nowhere. It was later in the day and we had covered about three-quarters of the route that most people take 3-4 days to hike. We had the same amount of gear as the others that would hike it, so we weren’t travelling lighter, we were just travelling faster. As fast as we could, in fact.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, you are moving as fast as you can, aren’t you?’
‘Of course, I always do.’
He is 6’1” to my 5’1”, and he is strong, damn is he strong, and fast, and all-round so very capable in the outdoors. He will step over a fallen tree and plough on through, while I’m all hands and legs clambering over.
A few times on the trip, he had asked why I was going so slow? what was wrong?
You see we live in very different worlds in terms of capability. Don’t get me wrong I am capable, fiercely so. But, there is no denying the physical differences that mismatch our pacing from time to time.
So back to the question of am I doing my best? Well, yes, of course, I’m always working to do the best that I can. It’s just that my best might not be at the same level as your best.
‘Sorry. I just didn’t realise, and now I do, well, I can see how hard you do work, and I’m grateful’ He said.
And so we powered on. We made it to the hut in the fading light. We had completed an exceptional feat of power and endurance to smash out the route in a day. But, more than that, we had both learnt a powerful lesson.
People are always doing the best they can with the resources that they have. We can either judge them, get annoyed with them, or make ourselves better and them, less than.
Or, we can recognise where other people are at and accept them, help them, and show compassion and understanding.