I first met Patrick on the Tube, staring out at me from a bill board. Not smiling. Not frowning. Just staring out from the board. He looked determined, like a man on a mission. And, with his paint box and easel, he is. For Patrick is an artist and his mission is to paint 100 portraits before he dies. He’s on 11 so far, and I’m excited and chuffed to say that I am on the list to be painted. The clock is against him, however, for Patrick has Motor Neurone Disease. MND is a bastard of a disease, painful, degenerative and incurable. This means that he is slowly losing the ability to walk, talk and paint. Move, eat, breathe; Patrick is dying.
This means that his wife Kath will be left to bring up their three young children on her own and that his youngest probably won’t remember her Daddy. It is heart breaking to see such a witty, talented and wonderful man deteriorate. But it is wonderful watching his blog and following his story, for Patrick is an Incurable Optimist, full of the sort of energy that can make a difference and boot MND into touch. One brush stroke at a time Patrick the Optimist is showing the world that MND is about living, not just about dying: it is about living every day to the full, about hope and the quest for a cure.
I’m en route to Cornwall at the weekend and am planning to touch base at Optimism HQ to meet Patrick in person. I can’t wait. It is this sort of spirit and attitude that I thrive on and so admire in many people – the sort that says ‘Two fingers to bad news or challenges – we’re making our own party!’ It is the sort of attitude that the indomitable Kris Hallenga used to turn her news of breast cancer diagnosis into a charity encouraging the ladies of Britain to get to know their boobs. She calls it making lemonade when you’re handed sour lemons.I saw the same optimism in Dad as he battled the dastardly rheumatoid arthritis and in Ed Stafford as he walked the length of the mighty Amazon. It i’s the same undaunted energy that these guys are using to pedal from John O Groats to Lands End on an enormous bike for seven people and that my friend and paraplegic Jamie Dunross used on his epic solo sail round Australia recently. All of them are Incurable Optimists.
It’s not to say that these people are super human in their ability to ride out the storms; they each acknowledge that there are dark days along the way. But so long as the balance sheet has more bounce than blues, then you too can be an Incurable Optimist.
Meanwhile, check out Patrick’s page here and an interview he did with BBC World Service right here. it will make you laugh and cry – it is funny, poignant and very thought provoking. For more info on MND click here.
Happy August folks,
PS Order forms for my first book ‘A Dip in the Ocean’ will be available soon.
PPS Today I spoke with Jamie & Emily of Global Boatworks. Tomorrow Jamie starts laying the frames and foam for Dippers II – my new boat
PPPS Plans for ‘London to London: Via the World’ are going well. First Major Sponsor now on board. Logistics Manager Tim Moss will be heading out to Russia and Japan to recce my landing sites in October and training is going well.
PPPPS Do you know anyone with links to or contacts in Sakhalin? If so – please give me a shout.