This epistle is an attempt to describe one of the most important parts of my triathlon journey. It is something I never expected and it is so often taken for granted or even ignored but it has become one of my greatest pleasures.

I am talking about simply enjoying our environment here in Hobart. Every day as I go out riding, running, or even swimming now that it is warmer, I am amazed at the beauty that surrounds us. The onset of Spring has been a wonder to see, smell, and feel.

This spring I have seen native hen chicks, goslings, and plover chicks. Everywhere I see birds gathering nesting materials and struggling to protect their babies from predators, rampart runners, and crazy cyclists.

Most days I cycle the cycling path between Claremont and Hobart City or thereabouts and there are many natural delights along the way. Banks covered in daisies, a wide variety of trees and bushes with some going through various stages of blossoming. Even as I am sometimes gasping for breath or struggling into a squally headwind, I manage to catch a glimpse the ongoing beauty.

One of my greatest joys is when I smell the flowers, or when the mowers hit a patch of fennel and the smell wafts across the bike track. Even the plain grass smells good.

The clouds and the blue sky fill me with a delight that make my whole-body tingle sometimes and I have to wonder why. Sometimes I have tried to express this joy with others and reactions are usually muted as folk wonder what I am going on about.

I have decided there are two reasons for my fascination and pleasure. First of all is the fact that I have spent the last seven years in China apart from coming home for holidays. The natural environment in China generally is nothing like what we experience here. Pollution occurs almost everywhere at levels that are difficult and heart rending to describe. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about air, water, land, auditory, or smell. Sometimes I tell people about how I never saw the sky for the first three months I was in China in a very small industrial city. This level of air pollution was matched by the street, and water pollution. My heart still sinks at the thought of it because I am very aware that this is happening in the same world I am a part of. It may seem obvious to you that the contrast is enough of a reason to enjoy our beautiful environment here in Hobart but there is more.

In studying triathlon, with a little experience in ultra-marathon running, and with a little knowledge about the Buddhist concept of suffering, I feel I have some understanding of the importance of living in THIS moment – whatever we are going through. Recently I had my own little sufferfest riding a fair way and then doing a brick run. Every once in a while, I managed to leave the future alone. Every now and then I left the past hours of effort in the past. In those fleeting moments of living in the now, effort flowed easier and the suffering was less. Now I reckon this is something worth working on.

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