A year in people #7 – Lee M

Lee, whether he knows it or not, was a fundamental part of the creation of the ‘new me’ (post-divorce).

An innocent conversation in the kitchen at work back at the start of 2011 between Lee, myself and Ash got onto the topic of running. We’d all dabbled in it in the past, and were all wanting to get a bit fitter. It was probably the run up to and after Christmas when the kitchen was rammed full of sweets and cake. Somehow the conversation ended with us all promising each other we’d go running and report back. That was pretty much the start of my running love affair, and in the early days knowing I had to keep reporting back to those guys was one of the reasons I made myself keep going (because running really isn’t easy when you start).

Lee kept it up longer than Ash, who never really liked it and just did short distances while getting more into weights at the gym.

We started talking food, to compliment our new athlete selves, and discovered the 5:2 diet. Like eager bunnies, we decided to give it a go. Not really to lose weight, but because of the supposed health benefits. If you’ve ever done it, it’s quite hard to get into and I leaned on Lee quite heavily in the first few weeks; that was, to go talk to him whenever I felt hungry. Which was most of the time. The poor chap probably never got any work done.

We’d chat about this that and the other. Running, food and life.

I know Lee thought I was fanciful and foolish. He was steadfast and cautious.

I remember one conversation when I’d decided to quit my job to go travel. They’d offered to keep my job open, but I’d said no.

“Why don’t you at least do that and then you’ve got something to come back to?”
“Nah, I want to just go and see what’s out there.”
“But what if you don’t get a job when you get back?”
“I will.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because it’s down to me.”
“What if you don’t get such a good job?”
“This isn’t the only job. And there’s loads of things that make a job good. Do you really enjoy your job?”
“Well it’s OK, you know, the pension and perks are OK.”
“How old are you Lee?”
“40-something.”
“Are you really going to spend the next 20 years in a job that you only think is OK just for a pension?”
<shrug>
“You’re an idiot.”

I’m paraphrasing slightly, it was lighthearted, and I know that he doesn’t hate his job, but we had many conversations about life and making more of it.

I don’t blame him; it’s society’s path for us that dictates the norm, and anything different is seen as something to possibly be feared. Questions around the future, that I can’t answer. I don’t know about security when I’m old and what that looks like, but equally I don’t know if I need to. Not right now. Who knows if I’ll even get old?

When I returned from travelling, I did get a job. In fact, it was a ‘better’ job (though of course, that’s all subjective by what better actually means). A year and a half after that, I got an even ‘better’ job, and two and a half years later I’m in probably my favourite job so far on the other side of the world. Sometimes you have to take the leap of faith.

But Lee’s not stuck in a rut either. He’s still working at the same place but since then I’ve seen him jetting off to loads of different places; not quite quitting the job for the hobo lifestyle, but he’s made it work for him. Whether our conversations sparked any of that, I don’t know, but I don’t think he’s letting life just happen quite so much these days.

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