A special guest is writing my blog today - over to you, Geoff...
"I was born at a time when disabled people were kept out of sight. I got polio at the age of 2 and was expected to work in a sheltered workshop, if I worked at all, and be 'looked after'. My mother, and consequently myself, would have none of that and I went on to study physics at university, and live an independent life. I had a good job for many years and now run my own business.
I have always wanted to encourage and enable others to achieve their potential, and my skills as a physicist enable me to do that, but I only ever succeeded on an individual level.
I met Roz when her mother arranged for her to speak at our local church, and she made me realise that we can all do things on a much grander scale if we simply choose to do so. And I want to do more!
Maybe I have a role, not in promoting disabled people, but in changing attitudes to handicap and disability. Maybe I could point out that people look up to Roz thinking she is unique, and that compared to her, they feel that they can achieve very little, but as she said to me, anyone can do great things if they choose. The power is there within us all.
I like to remind people that everyone has things they can't do, everyone is handicapped to some extent, but it is more important what we choose to do than what we can't do. Yes, for some people, the choice is more restricted than others, but we all have a choice, we all have a role, and we all can do great things. We should never assume someone can't, however it looks.
Perhaps we should learn from my friend Nathan aged 8, who has cerebral palsy, and when his dad jumps in and does something for him on his computer, Nathan will delete it and then do it for himself. He is destined for great things!
Recently I have given Roz two surprises in my emails to her.
First: I had been looking through old photograph albums, and found several pictures of my parents, my brother and myself in boats. I sent copies of these to Roz, and her response was "Wow! We must have these on my website." So there they are, in her Gallery, under the headings of Photo Album, Portraits, and then Family Photos.
She had asked me if she could spend a few days with me in early October, but I said that I would be away. Of course she wanted to know where I was going. My reply was the second surprise:
Where am I going?
If you had not rowed the Atlantic . . .
I would not have heard of the capsize of American Fire . . .
I would not have heard of Stavros S Niarchos . . .
I would not have heard of its sister ship Prince William . . (Can a Prince be a sister?)
I would not have signed up as crew for the crossing from Portsmouth to St.Malo !!
I know it is for young people - they take them up to the age of 74.
Crazy, I know."
Then I was the one to get a surprise! While I was signing up to go on the sailing ship in early October, Roz was signing up for a sponsored event for the Tall Ships Education Academy in San Francisco (see the link on the right hand side of this page under Blog Sections) later in the month.
I wonder whether it is coincidence that I spent 105 days on a cruise ship in 2005 going around the world, and Roz spent 103 days in her little boat in 2006 crossing the Atlantic. Are we trying to outdo each other? Or is it just part of our genetic inheritance to seek adventures at sea? Do I blame my father for always having a boat of some sort? Or my great-grandfather who sailed from England to New Zealand in 1842 - returning again in 1843; he later took the family to South Africa in 1849 on the King William - and the rest is our family history.
Thinking more about Ardell Lien... at one point, he was so sick, I'm guessing his prognosis was no more than 3 months. Maybe it was then that he resolved that if he lived, he would embark on a mission to raise awareness of organ donation.
So here's the question: if you had only 3 months left to live, what would YOU resolve to do?
And if it's that important to you, that you would spend the last 3 months of your time on this earth doing it....
WHY AREN'T YOU DOING IT NOW?
You never know what's just around the corner. When I was working in London, I could have been blown up on the Underground on my way to work. Every time I fly, the plane could drop out of the sky. Every time I cross the street, I could get squished. How many people do you know, or how many urban myths have you heard, of people dying prematurely, unexpectedly, before they'd done the things they really wanted to do?
As the second anniversary of my father's death approaches, I recall that the last coherent words I heard him say were, 'I never got around to...' and the rest of the sentence was lost in his pain. If that were you, what would be that thing that you never got around to?
You may choose not to live every day as if it's your last (maybe best NOT to tell the boss what you really think of him/her, just in case) but how much would it really hurt you if you did?
I haven't read this book but it sounds intriguing.
Famous last words - and if this is all getting a bit too serious for you, I would check out Oscar Wilde...
The world of the wild and whacky and adventurous is mourning the premature passing of Steve Irwin.
To be sure, he'd been tempting fate for a while, but it was still an unlucky end to a lucky life. It's all the more tragic for the fact of the young family he leaves behind.
If only his companions had known this....