David Smith: Inspirational couple provides life lessons for everyone


In the run-up to Christmas, it felt odd to be in Jamaica. It’s a relaxed life out here and I can’t complain.

After reading about what’s coming up in the UK during the Christmas season, I felt bad telling friends how good it was to swim in the ocean and eat fresh food.

When I talked to a friend in the United Kingdom, they told me what was coming up in the next few weeks, and I didn’t want to tell them that I was just going for a swim at the beach.

With each of us facing numerous obstacles, this has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone, and now it seems that Covid will possibly stretch well into 2021.

I saw so many people arguing over vaccinations and what each leader was supposed to do. That has broken apart a lot of individuals.

We are programmed, as humans, with a negative bias. During the year, I’ve spoken many times about whether we’re a merit or demerit finder, and 2020 has undoubtedly made it easy to find fault.

Covid’s life took its toll. How are we going forward, then? How can we sustain a positive outlook?

This can be easy for some, while others really struggle. Remember, we’re all in the same storm, but not all in the same boat, necessarily.

What can we learn from individuals like Olympic rower Pete Reed, who, after suffering a spinal stroke, has had an extraordinary experience, but remains concentrated and driven?

Pete described the significance of living with gratitude last week, using difficulties you face as lessons to adapt by using your strengths, and eventually developing as an individual.

What Pete has taught many this year is that what matters most are the easy things in life.

The highlight of my hospital day, I recall, was a bath in my bed and a fresh gown. It was so good to just feel clean.

Davy Zyw from Edinburgh is another person who is an inspiration, having made the most of his strengths rather than dwelling on the negative things about his situation.

Two years ago, he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease and advised that by 2020 he will likely be on a ventilator and paralyzed.

Instead, while raising money for the Doddie Weir Foundation, Davy, 32, tackled the North Coast 500 and completed the 500 miles in four days. For anyone who is completely fit, let alone someone with MND, to cover 500 miles in four days is quite an achievement.

Davy, like Pete and I, has, in many respects, found sense in his case. It’s a very difficult road to make sense of anything like that, but in some respects, when you have had to have some very difficult conversations, it helps you live very much in the moment.

You’d excuse anyone for giving up when faced with anything like that.

But not Davy, who continues to train hard to support others and does what he can.

After his diagnosis, he and his brother embarked on a month-long biking and camping trip through Patagonia to show that he had a healthy body and mind.

An avid runner, when his thumb stopped working, he found his first sign during a snowboarding holiday.

The path he went through medically from that moment to the time he heard of his MND is difficult to imagine. As a healthy young man, it’s not something you ever think of. For that, no one trains you.

The most tough thing for me, with paralysis, is that your body essentially stops working, even if your mind is still sharp.

That’s bad for everybody. Losing control is one of the toughest things to embrace, but it’s heartbreaking for an athlete who enjoyed the freedom his body gave him.

As I look through his Instagram with my minimal internet access, however, Davy is everything we can aspire for as humans. He obviously lives by his ideals and tries to make the world a better place and get out of life everything he can.

Of course, when he struggles, there will be tough moments, and I can relate to those days when your body just doesn’t work and you have to rely on someone to help you get dressed first.

But from those days, we’re improving and mentally seeking something to drive us even further.

So I’m leaving you with an additional one this week,


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