I had a reminder of perspective and spark of motivation while walking to tesco a couple of days ago.
On my way I bought a Big Issue from a vendor who was sat on the pavement peacefully reading a book and had a quick chat with him. One of the things he remarked upon was that it wasn't pleasant waking up in the cold (which as you can imagine it isn't - there's no prospect of a nice, warm lie in and it's quite achey), which compared to hearing a couple of friends mention the cold is much worse.
This then triggered a series of thoughts about how lucky we are and everything we have at the moment. There's no need for me to list things; I'm sure you can all think of a tonne of things we have in our favour in our lives. And that we have all these opportunities that others aren't as fortunate to have just gave me a drive that we ought to make the most of them: I feel that we kind-of owe it back to fate that we use what we are given well. In a general level this has encouraged me that I ought to use my time better, more efficiently; I should focus on academic work but also be more efficient with it so that I have more time to use for other things.
And unsurprisingly, given that it's my most important hobby, my thoughts turned to parkour.
At the heart of the parkour philosophy is the idea of always pushing yourself further. Not to be content with where you've got to, but to always try to improve. Even the traceurs who have been training for ten or even twenty years think the same and still see improvements that they can make, and I am definitely well below that. Not to say that I'm at any level which means I can sit back, but I could be making more progress. My current aims are to try and train a bit more often and eat more healthily (despite me already eating pretty healthily I have had three cookies, a flapjack, and five pieces of cake in the last 48 hours).
But this doesn't just mean keeping training; it also means making more out of training sessions. I was trying to explain this to the people at the today's session before a continuous route that they ought to think of the number of laps they thought they would be able to do, then set themselves a number that they had to complete above this. I told them that at the end of a session they should look back and be able to tell themselves that there was nothing more they could given to it. Unfortunately I don't have enough of these sessions, but I have improved since I realised this, but I have had more than I used to. Especially given how busy we are at Oxford, the most ought to be made out of any time we set aside to train, the same way we should make the most of all the opportunities we have on a wider scale.
(While writing this I was reminded of a couple of blog posts which a london coach had written, both in which he sets himself a challenge which proves much harder than he expected but still completes: http://www.parkourgenerations.com/blog/law-averages and http://blane-parkour.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/forfeit.html).