Moving the goalposts

If you’re as interested in following politics as I am you would’ve seen the term “moving the goalposts” thrown around a lot lately thanks to a huge amount of online commentary or arguing on governments/policies/human rights. Facebook comments are a cesspool and it’s frustrating reading a lot of it but thanks to my hard-wired curiosity I can’t look away. Moving the goalposts has stuck out to me because it’s thrown around with a negative connotation – someone has an argument that is debunked then changes the argument to attempt to continue their point. In this context it probably is a negative thing as most people debate to enforce their own beliefs without listening to the other side, and will keep bringing up new points – throwing shit at the wall to hope something sticks. During an evening of self torture reading some of this stuff I actually thought that moving the goalposts had a positive connotation outside the shit slinging of political commentary, and so sparked this post.

Most of my writing in the past has been focused on outdoor activities – being fit and taking on big adventures was really what I’ve wanted to shape my life around. Colitis has unfortunately stripped me of the ability to do a lot of things and despite the power of positive thinking there’s not a lot I can do to fix that. I talk a lot about not letting an illness define or stop you doing things but the harsh reality is that sometimes it will. It’s something that I’m currently trying to come to grips with as I attempted to play football again.

I played football (Australian, not soccer) as a kid and have always loved the game except unfortunately I was both a late bloomer and useless. I was a child still at 16 and would get smashed every weekend playing footy because I was too small/short/weak/untalented. This led to me giving it up because a sport isn’t really enjoyable when you’re so bad that you’re either bench-warming or getting hurt. A few years out of school I decided to pick up cricket again which I’ve really enjoyed (mostly for getting pissed with mates), and it was only a matter of time before I got the urge to get back into playing footy now that I’ve grown and can (hopefully) hold my own.

The problem with it is that even cricket wrecks my body. I play 4-5 games a season and I ruin my hands for a week following the games, struggle with pain all season long and just really can’t handle it. That’s cricket, the game where you stand around doing nothing most of the day. How am I going to go with football? Unfortunately I’ve had to resign to the fact that I can’t handle high impact activities anymore. It really hurts to feel that you can’t do something because of how your body reacts or handles it but this is reality for a massive portion of our population.

And so we come to moving the goalposts. A couple of months ago I picked up my guitar again and tried to learn to play. I’ve had two prior attempts one in primary school and again in high school, both of which failed miserably. This time I seem to be picking it up – I’m really enjoying myself, I actually understand it and can play things that resemble music! I’ve realised that there are things I physically can’t do anymore but I needed to take that time and find something I could do rather than do nothing. Moving the goalposts in a physical sense for personal development is wildly positive – unlike the debating context. I feel great with where my life is at thanks to learning the guitar despite how simple and innocuous the act might seem.

I read a comment when I was first diagnosed from a guy who had recently had an ileostomy, who was unbelievably negative about his circumstances and I felt awful. It made me think – is that going to be me? He said that he’d lost everything that he lived for before the surgery and he felt as though he was waiting to die. It struck a chord with me because I felt like a stoma would do the same to me – so many things I did at the time would be impacted by that surgery and it absolutely terrified me. But I think the past year has changed how I look at my disease and I’m not scared of surgery anymore. I’m really not scared of anything colitis related because it feels like I’ve been through it all before. I’ve had such a massive change in personality and how I see the world that I just don’t feel like it could affect me in any meaningful way. I’ll always be able to move the goalposts and find something else that I enjoy spending my time on, I’ll always have friends and family and I’ll always have my own company that I love dearly. It’s all going to be okay.

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