The Last Word

By Louis Harris | Posted: Wednesday July 4, 2018

Today, I thought I would talk about evolution and not quite in the way that we evolved from apes.

Everyone goes through their own personal evolution, and secondary school is the time where we evolve the most. Interests are realised, personalities developed, and we also have the pleasure of puberty. For one, I’m pretty sure I only hit puberty in year 11.

We cross through the archway as little prepubescent munchkins in year 9, and leave it in year 13 as practically fully grown men. What surprised me writing this, was how much I have changed, in more ways than just physically since I arrived here. I was a pretty simplistic immature year 9. I sang in the choir, played a snowman in a school production, and did competitive scavenger hunts for a sport, which is called orienteering. But these three things were just a mask for my one true love, the luxurious comfort of the couch. Most of my free time consisted of couch, couch and TV, and not to forget couch and computer. I was essentially a pumped up couch potato.

But my parents weren’t a big fan of my lifestyle and decided they didn’t want me being a couch potato anymore. So instead, I was going to be some exceptional cyclist. So that’s what I did, and I was doing it for them. I rode my bike once, maybe twice a fortnight for a few months. It wouldn’t take a genius to work out that that is nowhere near enough training, but I went along to the South Island champs one July, ready to step atop that podium. I finished the time trial 17th out of 18. It was bad, so bad that I didn’t bother turning up for the next race. So bad that looking back, I’m sure a blind man without legs could have beaten me, so goodness knows what was wrong with the one person I did beat. So with that exemplary result, I returned back to being a recluse with a full time position as a couch potato, which I never really left come to think of it. A goal without work and effort is just straight delusion.

But failure isn’t fatal. You can’t truly succeed without it. After five months of dwelling on my own failure, I came to a realisation and decided to resign from my demanding position as head potato of my local couch. I picked up my bike and started riding it again. I did this every day, and I enjoyed it. I had decided to no longer do it for everyone else, just for myself. Potato-ism isn’t sustainable, what are we going to get out of life if we spend it stagnated in one spot? A few months later, I started competing and discovered that with the hard work I had put in for just three months, I wasn’t terrible anymore. So I continued putting the yards in and that July, I returned to the South Island champs but this time I didn’t come 17th, but very narrowly missed out on the podium in 4th. For me, that improvement was huge. Failure can dampen, but the notion of success really spurs you onwards.

That was over two years ago now, and today I can say that I’m still working hard at it. Most things never get easier, you just get better at it. These days, I even have the opportunity to ride for a team against some of the best non-pro riders in the country. There are highs, lows, and the odd ambulance trip.

And in no way did I write this or mean to have it interpreted as a long winded gloat. I’m far from a shining light that you should all religiously follow, but instead to showcase how we can evolve into better versions of ourselves if we choose to. I don’t do competitive scavenger hunts anymore, I don’t sing in a choir, and I most certainly do not perform as a snowman in front of people. It’s not necessarily a good thing, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just change, and there’s nothing wrong with change, especially when it realises more of our true self.

I know there are people out there the way I used to be, who don’t realise or put the work in to reach their potential at whatever interests they hold. You don’t have to be a world beater. I’m certainly not and I still enjoy my fair share of couch time. There's no better TV show than The Chase at 5pm. But the same way you can’t get away with eating McDonalds for every meal, couch time and aimlessness can only be successfully done in moderation. If you don’t currently have any goals or direction, I implore you to find something, put the effort in, and most importantly do it for yourself, not anyone else.

It’s easier to wake up early and do something purposeful, than to look in the mirror and not like what you see.