Friday, February 26, 2010

Glen Coe, Jenny, Joanne and Dr Horton

After the 2005 World Dragon Boat Championships in Berlin, we travelled around Europe. We each picked a place we would like to go to then we worked out a travel plan to connect the locations in an ordered and logical way. Jenny picked the Cinque Terre, Joanne picked Chamonix, Mum picked Paris, I picked London (always will) and David picked Geneva and Scotland.

So off to Scotland we set - we caught the Train (on the route of the The Flying Scotsman) to Edinburgh from London and then hired a car which we used to travel a little wider a feild. David being a member of the Campbell Clan, was keen to get to the Campbell's ancestral home near Inveraray. On the way we stopped at Fort William which took us through Glen Coe, a place where the local pub has a sign saying "Dogs and Campbell's not Welcome". Glen Coe is the place where the Campbell's befriended the Macdonald's and then after a few weeks, were ordered to massacre the Macdonald's while they slept.

The photos below tell a story. The first one is one of my favourite photos of Jenny and Joanne. The bridge in the background takes you to Glen Coe a little further to the south and east. We had spent the night in Fort William and were up early to head to Inveraray. We stopped here to take some photos. It was low-tide and there was lots to look at along the exposed shoreline. Joanne is pointing out something to Jenny.

Five years later, I am struck by the similarity of the composition between the photo and the cover of Paulo Coelho's book, the "Manual of the Warrior of Light".

Dr Horton was the surgeon who performed Jenny's pleurodesis - a procedure to "glue" the lung to the cavity that holds the lung. This procedure would and did stop the fuild build up in the Pleural cavity. Jenny would spend about a week in hospital to recover and as always we put photos up in her room. One of the photos was the Glen Coe photo with Jenny and Joanne, below. We were stunned when Dr Horton came in and told us that he recognised the location and told us Glen Coe. We were impressed by this, and everything he did for Jenny.

Jenny and Joanne - Glen Coe / Scotland - Sep 2005 (picasa)

Cover of "The Manual of the Warrior of Light"

Jenny, Dr Horton and Joanne - 15 Feb 2007 (picasa)

Jenny - St George Hospital - 'We always made sure there was plenty of photos around - you can see the Glen Coe photo next to the Macau Dragon - Dr Horton easily identified the Glen Coe location.' - Mon 05 Feb 2007 (picasa)

Jenny and Geoff - 'We always made sure there was plenty of photos around' - St George Hospital - Mon 05 Feb 2007 (picasa)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Warrior never judges someone else's suffering

'It's just a storm in a tea cup,' someone says to the warrior of light.

But he never exaggerates his difficulties and always tries to remain calm.

And he never judges someone else's suffering.

A small detail - which does not affect him in the least - could serve to ignite the storm brewing in his brother's soul. The warrior respects the suffering of others and does not try to compare it with his own.

The cup of suffering is not the same size for everyone.

From the Manual of Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho - (more here)

"Shattered"/"Fractured" - La Perouse - Aug 2002 (picasa)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You can recognize a Warrior of the Light by the look in his eye.

You can recognize a Warrior of the Light by the look in his eye. Warriors of the Light are in the world, they form part of the world and they were sent into the world without saddlebags or sandals. They are often cowardly. They do not always act correctly.

Warriors of the Light are wounded by the most foolish things, they worry about trivialities, they believe themselves incapable of growing. Warriors of the Light sometimes believe themselves unworthy of any blessing or miracle.

Warriors of the Light often ask themselves what they are doing here. Often they find their lives meaningless.

That is why they are Warriors of Light. Because they fail. Because they ask questions. Because they keep looking for a meaning. And, in the end, they will find it.

Another passage from Paulo Coelho's - 'The Manual of the Warrior Light'. Just seems appropriate at the moment.

Geoff and Lynn - maybe 1963 ? - "Lynn has this: one of my earliest memories - sitting on top the lounge having our photo taken." - Tamworth (picasa)

Geoff - New York City Marathon - Nov 1990 - Brooklyn (picasa)

Geoff and Jenny - The Summit - Feb 1999 (picasa)

Jenny and Geoff - "In Love and Together - the most amazing day of my life." - Wedding Day - Sun 30 April 2000 (picasa)

Jenny and Geoff - "love and exhilaration" - Cape Leveque - 9 May 2001 (picasa)

Geoff - "I just called to say I love you Jenny" - Tomeree / Port Stephens - 10 Nov 2001 (picasa)

"Despair" - Canberra - Sat 14 Mar 2005 (picasa)

Geoff and Jenny - "Great Ocean Road Road Trip - post Nationals at Nagambie - a burnt throat from an intensive bout of radiation treatment, made it almost impossible for Jenny to eat for 3 weeks, but it would not stop her from smiling .. Jo and I now wear the chain Jenny is wearing - Jo as a bracelet and me as a chain - Jo's 2009 Xmas Present to me." - Point Londsdale - 20 Apr 2006 (picasa)

Jenny, Geoff and Joanne - "thank you" - Thu 26 Mar 2009 - Fitzroy Island

Jenny, Geoff, Joanne - "State vs State - National Champs" - Kawana - Thu 23 Apr 2009 (picasa)

Eugene and Geoff - Premier Open 200m Presentation - "PD's - nine from nine !! - I did not really want this weekend to end as I kind of knew the end was beginning to start (Editors: An End has a Start)." - Kawana - Sun 26 Apr 2009 (picasa)

Jenny, Joanne, David and Geoff - "Jenny takes a photo of us all just before she heads out to have a 4cm brain tumor removed. She had no fear and looked forward to quickly recovering to resume the treatment of the tumors in her liver." - 6:30am Wed 17 Jun 2009 (picasa)

Geoff by Jenny - "The last photo Jenny ever took - about 1 hour before her heart failed as she ate her lunch (beef stroganoff) - she was revived twice and survived another week in intensive care where her lungs ultimately failed from a massive pulmonary hemorrhage - as Jodie, Jenny's Oncologist, said 'it started with the lungs and ended with the lungs'" - Tue 23 Jun 2009 (picasa)

Geoff - "an early start for the first day of the rest of my life - 'where do you start?'" - Alexandria - 7am Wed 01 Jul 2009 (picasa)

Geoff - post 200m Senior Open Final "letting go" - Racice/Prague 2009 - 28 Aug 2009 (picasa)

Geoff and Joanne - "World Champs - dreams can come true even when you would least expect it!" - Racice/Prague - Sat 29 Aug 2009 (picasa)

Geoff, Mike and Joanne - "Jenny's Paddle and Gold Medal" - Prague/Racice - Day 5 - Sun 30 Aug 2009 (picasa)

Me and Teal - "Always be nice to a dog - always say hello to a dog" - Victor Hugo Market Restaurants - Toulouse - Sun 19 Sep 2009 (picasa)

Geoff and Joanne at Fabio Casartelli's Memorial - "we stumbled upon it by complete accident" - "It's not about the Paddle" - Col de Portet d'Aspet - Wed 23 Sep 2009 (picasa)

Geoff, Jo, Family and Friends - "Remembering and Honouring - Jenny's Flowers on the Water" - Sun 07 Dec 2009 (picasa)

Geoff, Jo, Family and Friends - "Remembering and Honouring - Jenny's Flowers on the Water" - Sun 07 Dec 2009 (picasa)

Grant, Grace, Betty, Thomas, Lynn, David, Joanne, Geoff - Coffs Harbour - 25 Dec 2009 (picasa)

Geoff - Mount Kosciuszko (2,228m) - "I had a lightness of step that day - the best I had felt since Jenny's passing 6 months earlier - you can see it in my face - life goes on .." - 7pm Fri 1 Jan 2010 (picasa)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

We can be Heroes - David Bowie (LiveAid 1985)

We can be Heroes - David Bowie and Friends (Live Aid - Wembley - 13 Jul 1985)

Remember watching this live and even remember Bowie's dedication to his Son and the Children of the World. This version of Heroes is very light and a lot of fun to watch and listen to - my favourite.

The Phantom - La Perouse - 11 Aug 2002 (picasa)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Learning ..

Hidden in one of Drew Ginn's recent Blog Posts is this little piece on pushing yourself, motivation, challenges and learning - something I have done a lot of over the last 8-9 months. Thought I would pull it out here so that I can remember this great little piece of writing. Here it is:

[..] I learned to ride my rhythm, to find my own groove and to sit on the knife edge with fatigue, discomfort and sweat surrounding, penetrating and leaving me. At no stage was it intense like a rowing race or a super burst of effort. It was an experience in sustaining a level of force which body and mind was saying, 'BACK OFF'.

Like some sinister and shadowy creator holding an emotional gun to my head. Tempting as it might have been I had committed to the 7 days and on the last to having a great ride with heaps of challenge.

You could say I learned what I have learned before and now I have been reminded of it again.

Stretching and challenging is healthy. It requires us to keep pushing and to keep seeking motivation for why we would continue on. Why I asked my self on more than one occasion during the 7 days. Even as I spent the day at back home yesterday I was still asking why.

Placing your self in a challenging situation forces the questions to be asked.

I did this by going to Tassie to train with a good friend.

To train in a way which would force the questions to come thick and fast and they did and with each and every moment which one appeared I toiled and churned it around to cultivate and see what I would learn about self, others and the World I am in.

Again I say why? To learn is the only answer which I could find. To Learn, but why? It gives life.

Maybe. It brings clarity. Not always. It energises, YES, but it can also be draining.

Why then would I do any of this? Why would you? To be challenged is something which for sometime now I have said is a reason for my motivation. Maybe challenge is not enough.

Challenge without the acknowledgment of the learning required and needed is only one side of the coin. What happens if every time we toss it and it only ever landed on the challenge side.

We might assume that is all there is. Every stage, moment, event, session, day, hour and minute if challenged we might eventually find little else but a sense of seeking something which never ends.

Flipping the coin, the moment, experience and our perception can bring light to the other side or even sides. Maybe less a coin and more a cube it is with multiple sides and perspectives. A cube like RUBIX which starts out perfect with all colours separated on each side.

Then with everyday the play, the games, and events acting to jumble the cube until we finally realise it is rearranged.

How we feel about that becomes essential and what we do with it becomes simple a challenge. From this rearranged state we might begin to work to find the form or the essence of this box or cube. Learning to work with it in what ever state jumble or un-jumbled becomes important I think. Living with and learning from it. The challenge of it, the frustration and the joy.

So there it is I have gone away for 7 days of challenge which was more about learning than anything else.

Orange Bike - Toulouse - Fri 25 Sep 2009

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's not about the Paddle


I read the following extract to Jenny twice while she was in Hospital in June 2009. The first time was two days after the surgery to remove a 4cm brain tumor. She listened intently - like a small child being read a fairy tale - while I struggled to remain composed, as I read it to her.

Jenny - St George Private Hospital - Sun 22 Jun 2009 (picasa)

The second time was in the Intensive Care Unit at St George following her "heart failure" episode 6 days earlier (Tue 23 Jun 2009) – a day before she left us on the 30 Jun 2009 at 9:16am. I think and hope she heard me. This little story for me is the essence of the Book, a book she treasured, and ultimately it reads as a "prophecy" for what would unfold in Prague in late August 2009 for Joanne and myself - hope this makes sense .. Geoff

Jenny, Joanne and Geoff - St George ICU - Sun 28 Jun 2009 (picasa)


If there is a defining characteristic of a man as opposed to a boy, maybe it's patience. In 1995, I finally gained an understanding of the demanding nature of the Tour [de France] and all of its extraordinary tests and dangers. I finished it, and I finished strong, winning a stage in the closing days. But the knowledge came at too high a price, and I would just as soon not have learned it the way I did.

Late in the race, our Motorola teammate, Fabio Casartelli, the 1992 Olympic champion, was killed on a high-speed descent. On a descent, you ride single file, and if one rider goes down, it can cause a terrible chain reaction. Fabio didn't crash alone; 20 riders went down with him. But he hit a curb with the back of his head and fractured his neck and skull.

I went by too fast to see much. A lot of riders were down, and everybody was crouched around someone lying on the ground, but you see that sort of thing a lot in the Tour. It was only a while later that I learned via the team radio what had happened: Fabio was dead. When they tell you something like that, you almost don't believe it.

It was one of the longest days of my life. Fabio was not only the young hope of Italian cycling, he was a new husband and a new father. His baby was just a month old.

Jenny and Geoff - Cape Leveque - 9 May 2001 (picasa)

We had to keep riding, to finish the stage even though we were distraught and sick with shock. I had known Fabio since I first started racing internationally in '91. He lived right outside of Como where I kept my apartment, and we had competed against each other at the Barcelona Olympics in '92, when he won the gold medal. He was a very relaxed, fun-loving man, a little goofy, a joker. Some of the top Italians were more serious, or macho, but Fabio wasn't like that. He was all sweetness.

That night we had a Motorola team meeting to discuss whether we should keep riding or not. We were split. Half of us wanted to quit and go home and cry with our families and friends, and half of us wanted to keep riding in honor of Fabio. Personally, I wanted to stop; I simply didn't think I had the heart to ride a bike. It was the first time I had encountered death, and genuine grief, and I didn't know how to handle it. But then Fabio's wife came to see us, and she said she wanted us to keep riding, because she felt that was what Fabio would have wanted. So we sat in the grass behind the hotel, said a few prayers, and decided to stay in.

Me and my Shadow - "an early start for the first day of the rest of my life" - 7am Wed 01 Jul 2009 (picasa)

The next day the peloton rode in honor of Fabio, and gave our team a ceremonial stage victory. It was another long, terrible day— eight hours on the bike, with everybody grieving. The peloton did not race. Instead we rode in quiet formation. It was virtually a funeral procession, and at last our team rode across the finish line, while, behind us, Fabio's bike was mounted atop the support car with a black ribbon.

The following morning we began the race again in earnest, and rode into Bordeaux. Next was a stage into Limoges, and that night, Och came around to our rooms and told the team that Fabio had had two goals in the Tour: he wanted to finish the race, and he especially wanted to try to win the stage into Limoges. As soon as Och stopped speaking I knew that if Limoges was the stage Fabio had wanted to win for himself, now I wanted to win it for him, and that I was going to finish the race.

About halfway through the next day's stage, I found myself grouped with 25 guys at the front - Indurain was in the yellow leader's jersey, riding at the back. I did what came most naturally to me: I attacked.

The problem was, I attacked too early, as usual. I went with 25 miles still to go, and on a downhill portion. Two things you never do: attack early, and on a downhill. But I went so fast on that downhill that I had a 30-second lead in a finger-snap. The other riders were completely taken aback. I could feel them wondering, What's he thinking?

What was I thinking? I had looked back, and saw guys were riding along, with no particular ambition. It was a hot day, and there was no incentive to pull hard, everyone was just trying to get closer to the finish line where the tactics would play out. I glanced back, and one guy was taking a sip of water. I glanced back again. Another guy was fixing his hat. So I took off. Peoooo. I was gone.

When you have 15 other guys back there from 15 different teams, they'll never get organized. They'll look at each other and say: You pull. No, you pull! So I went, and I went faster than I'd ever ridden. It was a tactical punch in the face, and it had nothing to do with strength or ability; everything depended on the initial shock and separation. It was insane, but it worked.

IDBF Senior Mixed 500m Final - 200m to go - "The Break" - "It was insane, but it worked" – Prague/Racice - Day 4 - 29 Aug 2009

Nobody got within 55 seconds of me again. The team support car kept coming up and giving me reports. Henny Kuiper, our team director, would say, "You're thirty seconds up." Then a few minutes later he'd come alongside again and say, "You're forty-five seconds up."

When he came up the third or fourth time, I said, "Henny, don't come up here anymore. I'm not getting caught."

"Okay, okay, okay," he said, and faded behind my wheel.

I didn't get caught.

I won by a minute, and I didn't feel a moment's pain. Instead I felt something spiritual; I know that I rode with a higher purpose that day. Even though I had charged too early, I never suffered after I broke away. I would like to think that was Fabio's experience too; he simply broke away and separated from the world. There is no doubt in my mind that there were two riders on that bike. Fabio was with me.

Senior Mixed 500m Final - "Instead I felt something spiritual; I know that I rode with a higher purpose that day." Lance A - "Don't Wonder 'What If?'" Jenny P – Prague/Racice - Day 4 - 29 Aug 2009

I felt an emotion at the finish line that I've never experienced again. I felt I was winning for Fabio and his family and his baby, and for the mourning country of Italy. As I came across the line I glanced upward and I pointed to the heavens, to Fabio.

World Champs - Australian Senior Mixed 500m Team - "As I came across the line I glanced upward and I pointed to the heavens" Lance A – Prague/Racice - Day 4 - 29 Aug 2009

After the Tour, Och had a memorial built for Fabio. He commissioned a sculptor from Como to execute a work in white Carrara marble. The team flew in from all over the world, and we gathered at the top of the mountain for the placement of the memorial and the dedication ceremony. The memorial had a sundial on it that shone on three dates and times: his birthday, the day he won the Olympic Games, and the day he died.

Geoff and Joanne at Fabio’s Memorial - we stumbled upon it by complete accident – Col de Portet d'Aspet - Thu 24 Sep 2009 [1] (picasa)

I had learned what it means to ride the Tour de France. It's not about the bike. It's a metaphor for life, not only the longest race in the world but also the most exalting and heartbreaking and potentially tragic. It poses every conceivable element to the rider, and more: cold, heat, mountains, plains, ruts, flat tires, high winds, unspeakably bad luck, unthinkable beauty, yawning senselessness, and above all a great, deep self-questioning. During our lives we're faced with so many different elements as well, we experience so many setbacks, and fight such a hand-to-hand battle with failure, head down in the rain, just trying to stay upright and to have a little hope. The Tour is not just a bike race, not at all. It is a test. It tests you physically, it tests you mentally, and it even tests you morally.

I understood that now. There were no shortcuts, I realized. It took years of racing to build up the mind and body and character, until a rider had logged hundreds of races and thousands of miles of road. I wouldn't be able to win a Tour de France until I had enough iron in my legs, and lungs, and brain, and heart. Until I was a man. Fabio had been a man. I was still trying to get there.

[1] I would like to think the two shadows on the “Wings” of the Memorial represent the spirit of Jenny and her life as a twin with Joanne.. There we are, Joanne and I, counterpoised by the twin shadows of the Joanne and Jenny. Jenny overlooks us and is there with us, Always.

Jenny - "looking out over us - she inspires and guides us from above" - Geoff E - Wolfe Creek Crater, WA - 22 May 2001"

Jenny, Geoff, Joanne - St George - 22 Aug 2006

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Where The Street Have No Name - U2 - Rattle and Hum

Where the Streets Have No Name by U2 from Rattle and Hum

Remember seeing the Rattle and Hum Movie with my younger Brother, Tim, in 1988. This song (Where the Streets Have No Name) stood out for me, both musically and visually (the silhouette effects). When I would visit him in Canberra, over the following years, I would ofter hear Tim play this song as he got ready for work (I like the way this song builds in energy over its duration). For these reasons, in part, I would decide to play this during his Funeral in March 2005 as we reflected over his life, after I had asked his Family and Friend's to forgive him for what he had done to himself (and all those that loved him) and at the same time try to understand his silent suffering.

When I ran the New York City Marathon in Nov 1990, I borrowed Tim's small point and shoot film camera (no commercial accessible digital cameras back then) for the trip and ran with it during the Marathon. This is my favourite photo from the run - I heard and saw the band playing on the side walk (you can see the Northern World Trade Centre Building in the distance on the left of the photo), just pulled over for a moment and snapped this shot. I love the one lone audience member - the guy in the Blue Shirt. Also the car with the boot/'trunk' open.

Street Band - 1990 New York City Marathon - Sun 04 Nov 1990

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Island Home - Christine Anu - Sydney 2000

My Island Home - Christine Anu - Sydney 2000

Another great Australian Moment for me as we watched the Sydney 2000 Closing Ceremony live on TV here in Sydney - we had only just got back to Alexandria in time from the Men's and Women's Handball Finals to see this performance.

I would decide at the very last minute to play the acoustic version of this song as the first song after Jenny's Service as we left the Chapel.

I don't know why, but I thought of this photo and our time at Lowe Howe Island (May 2000 - our Honeymoon and October 2001 - return trip to share the Island experience with Joanne and my Mother) and knew it was the not only the right song, but the right version.

My Island Home - Lowe Howe Island - Oct 2001 (picasa)

IDBF World DB Champs Sydney 2007 Premier Open 500m Final

Premier Open 500m Final - Sydney - Sun 23 Sep 2007 (picasa)

The very moment the USA Team cross the line in an amazingly fast time of 1m48.748s. Love the fact the sweep/steerer is in mid-air - a decisive moment in photography - sometimes you just get lucky. Full results here.

We have some great memories of the event ..

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bitter Sweet Symphony - Richard Ashcroft feat Coldplay live8

Bitter Sweet Symphony - Richard Ashcroft feat Coldplay live8

Remember watching this on TV back in July 2005 a few weeks before we flew out to World DB Champs in Berlin. We would travel onto London and I would go to Hyde Park to see the place that hosted the live8 event. An amazing song and performance.

Hyde Park - London - Mon 29 Aug 2005 (Bank Holiday)

Hyde Park (with A Little Bit of Red) - London - Mon 29 Aug 2005 (Bank Holiday)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A warrior of light often loses heart ..

He believes that nothing can stir him in the emotion he so desired. He is forced to spend many evenings and nights feeling that he is one of the vanquished, and nothing seems able to restore his enthusiasm.

His friends [and himself sometimes] say ‘Perhaps his fight is over.

The warrior feels pain and confusion when he hears[/feels] such remarks because he knows that he has not yet reached the place he wanted to reach. But he is stubborn and refuses to relinquish his aims.

Then, when he least expects it, a new door opens.

Another passage from Paulo Coelho's - 'The Manual of the Warrior Light'. Felt a bit like this at times over the last 8 months or so. Still, life goes on - I enjoy what I am doing, even with all stupid mistakes I have made along the way.

Video: It's not my Time by 3 Doors Down

Love the Parkour in the Video - Jenny seemed to know all about Parkour last May when we watched a show on TV - I had never heard of it, but have since seen people in Newtown doing it. Jo told me today, that they would have loved to have done this when they were younger.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Warrior and regrets ..

The warrior knows an old saying: 'If regrets could kill…'

And he knows that regrets can kill; they slowly eat away at the soul of someone who has done something wrong and they lead eventually to self-destruction.

The warrior does not want to die like that. When he acts perversely or maliciously - because he is a man of many faults - he is never too ashamed to ask forgiveness.

If possible, he does his best to repair the wrong he has done. If the injured party is dead, then he does some good turn to a stranger and offers up that task to the soul that he wounded.

A warrior of light has no regrets, because regrets can kill. He humbles himself and undoes the wrong he has done.

Another passage from Paulo Coelho's - 'The Manual of the Warrior Light'.

If we have some regrets (founded or unfounded) about something (and we all do at times), then this is not a bad way to think about things. (Note: promise to write something different and more positive next time :-)

Veil - Newtown - 2 Apr 2008