I remember in primary school being told that as you get older, you will forget a lot of your adolescence. It has already started to happen to me. I really can’t remember much from when I was five going on six. Only the silly things.

I remember only liking tomato sauce sandwiches for lunch. I remember trading mini transformers with the lads near the sandbox. I remember being envied as a duck, duck, goose champion. And I remember colouring things in.

Loved colouring in. Anything.

I remember the first task we were all given on the first day of Year 1.

It was a colourless picture of a person mowing a lawn, while a cat sat in a tree. We were being given a colouring-in assignment.

My time to shine.

We were sitting at desks in groups of five in the classroom. The other four kids starting swapping their Crayola’s, so they could get their hands on the shade of green they wanted for the lawn. Or red for the lawnmower. Or brown for the tree.

As I picked up a green Crayola to start colouring in my picture’s lawn – I stopped.

I’d had a moment of genius.

Instead of using the same colours as everyone else, I decided to become somewhat of a colouring-in rogue.

I picked up my purple crayon, and coloured in the lawn.

It looked great. So I then coloured in the lawnmower purple. And then the person purple. The tree. The sky. And finally the cat. Eventually I was left with an entirely purple coloured picture.

My teacher made their way around the class. As they looked at each child’s picture, they would put a sticker on it, and ask the student to pin it to the board on the wall.

I was bursting. Mainly because I thought my masterpiece was about to receive multiple stickers.

The teacher stopped at mine. Paused. And then said I’d done it wrong.

I didn’t realise you could fail colouring-in.

I didn’t get a sticker. And I didn’t get to put my work on the wall.

They only said one thing to me. “When have you ever seen a purple cat?”

As a timid, tomato sauce sandwich eating five year old, I didn’t answer.

Approaching my second year into training as a paratriathlete in 2014, my Coach taught me about visual goal setting.

The task – was to draw & colour in what I wanted to make happen in the sport.

I felt ridiculous. Predominantly because my drawing and colouring in skills could still be likened to that of my five year old former self.

I didn’t get why it was important. I like I was being rightly stitched up.

When I asked for an explanation, he sent me a video link. The theme through out it was “visual thoughts become things”.

So I drew and coloured in what I wanted to work for in the sport.

Some of the items I drew was to be a member of the high performance program, to have a top 10 world ranking, to qualify for an Ironman 70.3 World Championships. And right at the top – I had Rio 2016.

After I’d finished, my five year old creative cockiness came bellowing back. So after I’d shown my Coach, I went & showed someone else.

The first thing they asked me was if I really thought all that was achievable.

As a timid, 27 year old who no longer eats tomato sauce sandwiches, I didn’t answer.

A few mornings ago I was rolling through the shops towards the grocery store, and I passed a toy shop. I lazily glanced in as I pushed by, but something quickly caught my eye.

Sitting on one of the shelves, was a purple cat.

Yes, it was a toy.

But it was purple. And it was a cat.

And then this morning – I was announced in the 2016 Australian Paralympic Triathlon Team for Rio.

I guess visual thoughts do become things.

The Purple Cat

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