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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Memories




I have always looked upon one of my greatest assets to be determination. If I set myself a certain task then I hold no visions of failure despite the enormity or difficulties associated with the challenge I face. Whether the task calls for physical or mental strength somewhere within me is the ability to succeed and often it is just a matter of determining how to bring out the best in myself.

Even when I look back at my childhood years and at the simple games we would play out in the streets around our home, I held a great determination to succeed at almost any task.

I believe that within each of us is the ability for greater success once we put our minds to it and that it is simply our state of mind that restricts us to more menial achievements. We all possess the power to achieve our goals but somehow we have to work out a way to unleash that power in a positive way.

When I was about ten years old I spent days on end attempting to learn to ride a two-wheeled bicycle. I would sit on my bike while one of my friends grasped the seat and off we would go, the wind blowing into my big smiling face until my friend let go his grasp and I would immediately topple and fall to the ground. Battered and bruised we would try unsuccessfully once again.

What is it that eventually clicks within us and allows us to progress on our own with precisioned balance?

Is it really something that has to be learned over a period of time or is the ability already within us but just needs awakening?

Back on the bicycle for another attempt and once more in motion. Across the grassed island we go, down off the kerb into the road and as my friend stumbles and lets go his grip of the seat I find myself staring straight ahead at an oncoming car. Had I fallen to the ground it would have been big trouble but in an instant I was riding on my own and it was easy!

From that moment on I could ride a bicycle as if I had been born with the ability to do so all along – so had I?

The Power of the Mind

I am one of those fortunate people who can eat whatever they please and never gain excess weight. All my life I have been of slender build, bearing the brunt of many jokes about my physique that eventually resulted in me hiding my frame from view whenever possible. While my friends ran around during long summer days without their tops I was always the one wearing some item of clothing with long sleeves! The swimming baths were out of the question and even into my married life I rarely wore shorts as the stigma from my younger days carried forth.

But does your physique determine your actual physical strength?

It would seem clear that someone of a large physique would hold greater physical strength than someone much less proportioned but what exactly determines our physical strength?

Once again I refer back to events from my younger days.

I had no great qualities or abilities as an athlete, I was pretty much your average person. I had a competitive streak and I enjoyed participating but I was always one of the also-ran's.

One of our regular games played around our street was our own version of the ‘Olympics’ which doubtless most youngsters at some time or other play out.

I was pretty average and out of half-a-dozen competitors I would likely finish out of the top three.

A few doors away from us lived what I personally considered to be a very attractive young girl, a few years my junior.  Despite repeated attempts I never ever came close to gaining her affections, though my desire never diminished.  This young, pretty female would often join in with our games, attracted no doubt by my much fitter and more attractively proportioned team mates!

Our own version of the Olympic Games commenced with a defined number of events lined up to test our abilities as the young girl took her seat among the spectators.

A timed race around the block was the first event and looking at the competition I considered that third place was possibly within my grasp, and I was of course out to impress!

My more able bodied friends each took their turn and set what appeared to be fast times but I still believed it possible to snatch a bronze.

My turn came and while my eyes were focused on the pretty young girl, my friends had theirs on the stopwatch and the off was shouted. Into a fast stride I went all around the perimeter of our street, determined to show the pretty girl that I could compete as well as the others. I came home to an astonished group of friends having destroyed their personal times by some distance.

Perhaps it was just a fluke or maybe an error with the timekeeping but either way I had hold of my first gold medal!

Our version of the shot putt utilised a whole house brick and we marked out a throwing line at the top of the grassed area with the view to throwing down in the direction of the road. Never one to be the centre of attention, I strolled around in the background while my more assertive friends took their turns – each one using their greater physiques to throw a respectable distance that looked beyond my potential.

As my turn came round I recall having a vision of how it would feel to fail, how it would appear this scrawny kid had no physical strength. My right hand gripping tightly on to the house brick as the pretty young girl giggled and chatted to my competitors, the brick was nestled against my chin in true shot putt fashion. I set my toes down at the designated line, leaned back and let fly with the brick, which sailed out across the grassed area and into the road. Had there been a car or pedestrian passing at the time I dread to think of the consequences. There was a general hush among my group of friends as if in total disbelief before it was decided that as I had been the final competitor parts of the brick must have broken away during their own attempts resulting in a lighter object for me to throw.

After a similar outcome in the following event the games were abruptly halted and I was left a slightly dejected champion! Victory had not earned me the respect of my friends and alas, I was no closer to gaining the affections of the pretty young girl.

At any other time my achievements would not have been so remarkable but simply because I saw a reason to excel I was able to surpass what I would ordinarily be capable of.

How often do we all under-achieve when we have it within us to make a more determined contribution?

If used correctly we each have the power within us to shape our future, to create our destiny and to determine who we are. It is a power that builds reality and not mere imagination.

Often, we are too focused in looking outside ourselves that we have almost totally lost access to our inner-self. We settle on observing things outside of our own, making comparisons, judgements, and evaluations, which only lead us to conclude that we are inferior among others. What we don’t always realise is that we have the power to reverse what the outside world would have us believe.

Have you ever been in a situation where you have achieved something that would normally be out of your reach? Please write in and tell me about it.

Michael Norfolk

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