I used to swing between wishing could stop being so deeply moved or affected by things I witnessed or experienced and thanking God I was 'awake' enough to savour the pain and joy all around us.
Now I know that's just the way it is.
And I'm grateful for that. I think.
Anyway. This cutting is just one of those things. A small regular column in the Guardian's Weekend magazine. I think this interview was published sometime in the summer of 2007. It blew me away immediately. This young lady's spirit - her attitude, her matter-of-factness - struck me as truly inspirational. I always worry about saying things like that about people who have experienced extraordinary events in their lives. I think it's important to remember that they probably weren't born as 'extraordinary' people. They may have been, but I imagine it's more likely that they are ordinary people who have lived through previously unimaginable events in their lives. And emerged as victors, survivors, and therefore appear as winners and heros to the rest of us.
Also, the fact that she has a pair of 'swimming legs' (and by allusion, almost certainly swims more often than I) puts me to sorry, dry a*sed, land-lubbing shame.
On reading this article the first time round, I immediately reached for the scissors, cut it out and stuck it on the back of a door. It's not something I do very often. But I did that Saturday, last summer. To remind me of the feeling that was already slipping - too fast - from emotional memory. I stuck it somewhere where I'd see it every single day. To remind me that there are people who have survived incredible things.
People who have rebuilt or reclaimed their stake in this crazy world.
People who are taller and stronger than I could ever hope to be.
People who are making more of their time on this rock than I am.
So. Every day, Sophia Mason makes me smile. She makes me stop and think. She makes me promise myself that I'll try and stay 'awake' a little more each day that i pass by her gorgeous portrait on the way out the door.
She reminds me that I really should go swimming more often.
Sticking her back up on the door now, I'm struck by her beauty and strength. Again. If I ever had the good fortune to meet her, I'd like to think I'd pass this ordinary woman's "men from the boys" test.
Thanks for the inspiration and the reality check, Sophia.