The recent release of “The Breath Of Ghosts” has given me many reasons to pause and reflect on the most startling and transformational year of my life. A year ago, almost exactly one year in fact, I landed back in Australia after capping my journey from the sofa to the Sahara by completing a 250 kilometre ultra marathon in Egypt. I’ve thought a lot about the changes in my life prior to, and since crossing that finish line and in some respects the race was the easiest part of the odyssey. When I had a coffee with good friend and running impresario Tristan Miller recently and mulled over “the writing process” I immediately pictured myself in board shots at my kitchen table slowly tapping away, stepping back from the keyboard after I finished each chapter and resting my mind and fingers.
“The Breath Of Ghosts” is written in three parts and each was completed in very different phases of my journey. Part 1 documents the actions, reasons (and excuses) and events that led to me being one of life’s spectators. Overweight and deeply unhappy I watched the achievements of others, tinged with regrets of failing to live up to my own potential until I finally tired of life on the sidelines. It was very difficult to relive these years on paper. But I think I penned this phase of my life honestly without relying on lazy self-deprecation. When I decided to commit the insights into my ‘worst and best’ moments to paper I had passed through some very dark years and was writing from ‘a happy place’. Sitting each day, going back to those moments actually solidified my resolve to intensify training for the Sahara.
I started writing when I started standing, in those first chapters there was no guarantee as to what the outcome of my desert run would be. But I was certain I would complete the race and so I captured the journey from a 100 kilogram coach potato to ultra marathon runner in Part 2.
Part 2 was written as I lived it, from a single four-kilometre lap of Melbourne’s Albert Park Lake, through events and challenges that slowly but surely tested me more and more. “The Breath Of Ghosts” is not a training program, runner’s journal or ‘how to’ narrative. Looking back over the pages now I see it as a slow reveal of the changes in my life and some of the very valuable insights and lessons I uncovered. Some of the changes were eagerly anticipated; weight loss, increased fitness and a general reinvigoration, but many were most unexpected.
Clarity is a double edge sword. I uncovered facets of my life and self that I hadn’t wanted to confront. It was only the confidence and willingness to accept many failings and the fact that I was well progressed on the road to repair that I accepted a necessary part of the book was honesty. Now that sounds obvious, but it was not as easy as I thought. I dissected my relationship with my wife, children and myself and when I cut those relationships open a common virus infected them each. Me. And so to the cure.
Running the Sahara was something of course I need to finish. But it was not the cure. My experience in the desert was life effacing and will linger with me as the single most important cross roads I have faced. But it was not the cure. It was simply a point in time on the road from decision to action to reflection. I wrote the final part of the book after I returned from the desert and had time to ponder what I had learned.
What I learned was that the answer is not as important as the willingness to ask the question. I learned the potency of honesty and intent. And I hope “The Breath Of Ghosts” conveys both.
“The Breath Of Ghosts” is available through Amazon in both digital and printed form and I am excited about sharing a few snippets of myself. It may shock those closest to me or it may cause only minor rattles and confirm a few silent suspicions. So if it’s not about running, a training narrative or an arrogant treatise of what I believe others should do to transform their lives? My wonderful friend and publisher Ross (poor fellow has read it five times!) summarised it best I think when he said, “The Breath of Ghosts is about…” and he paused to ponder, “Endurance.” And I suppose it is.
Steven Brydon – Author
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In Praise of “The Breath Of Ghosts”
“Steven’s unflinchingly honest story of crippling heartache is one we can all relate to, just as following his heroic journey from the darkest reaches of despair to reforge his soul in the burning heart of the Sahara is profoundly uplifting for any reader. The Breath of Ghosts is a truly beautiful story of love, suffering and triumph.”
Bradley Trevor Greive – New York Times best-selling author of The Blue Day Book
“Steve has once again shown that human beings…ALL of us are capable of the extraordinary in our lives. His story not only inspires, but encourages us to discover what drives us, and live life with passion”.
Ray Zahab – Founder impossible2Possible, adventure runner
“Steven embodies extremes. He almost died from extremes and aptly it was extremes that saved him. This is a brazenly honest account of his continued personal struggle and how in the solitary confinements of long distance running he found a sense of perspective, belonging and a greater purpose.”
Mike Le Roux – 2010 Hawaii Ultraman World Champion
“Steven Brydon made the incredible leap from the sofa to the Sahara in one life-altering year … I couldn’t help but draw strength from him as he endeavoured to redefine himself through physical challenge and, in doing so, began to run towards the person he knew he could be.”
Simon Donato – Television Presenter Boundless TV, Endurance Athlete