HAPPY New year and new decade. It is a time to explore what your purpose is and what you stand for, and think about what not only 2020 can bring, but what the next decade holds for you.

As my first diagnoses came back in 2010, the last decade for me has been spent fighting this tumour. Hopefully the next one will see me avoid more surgeries so I can live the life I want to: competing on my bike.

Ever since going through radiation with Stony, the street artist, last year, I have found real meaning from art. Every piece has a story and I find understanding the backstory helps in freeing my mind. I love stories that transcend their apparent subject matter, like South Africa winning the Rugby World Cup or Usain Bolt growing up in one of the poorest parishes in Jamaica to become the fastest human ever.

Sport gives people the opportunity to overcome obstacles that have been put in front of them. Closer to home, Graeme Obree’s challenge to the top was a constant display of how the human spirit can be challenged, knocked down and beaten, yet still find that inner drive to win.

I have found it helps me to find my inner drive by trying to set my mind free. So when I was lucky enough to be invited to a beautiful farm about an hour away from Kingston on the last day of the decade to meet an incredible artist called Laura Facey Cooper who has produced one of the most famous pieces of art in Jamaica, “Redemption Song”, it was the perfect way to spend the last day of 2019.

Like Stony, Laura’s work has meaning with every piece having a spiritual story behind it. Much of it harks back to slavery but aims to bring the world together from a place of compassion rather than judgment. These are stories about resilience and the strength of the human spirit.

I was extremely moved by one piece called “Heart of Man” which she is about to submit to the Royal Academy of Art. It made me think about how, as a society, we judge people by the compassion we show and how as humans it is easy for us to become slaves to our own minds, to let our subconscious shape our conscious thoughts based on past experiences.

I have been reading a lot recently about how I can free my mind of thoughts connected to my time in hospital and this visit has left me feeling extremely moved and in a place of reflection about how those who came before us created the world we have today. It was the perfect place to start a new decade and to try to be free of the scars of hospital.

How we break free from our negative feelings or emotions has to come from within us. As Bob Marley wrote in his redemption song, “emancipate yourself from mental slavery, as none but ourselves can free our minds”.

I guess that means different things for everybody but for me I have felt trapped over the last decade by a tumour, and as we move into this new decade I want to become free of not only my tumour but also the mental scars of having to deal with it for the last 10 years.

You might think “what’s the relationship between art, sport, tumours and setting your mind free”? But sport transcends its subject matter just like art – just look at martial arts where people can find enlightenment through the study of the traditional art and also the sporting side of competing.

Inspiration comes in many forms. So as 2020 starts I find my cycling legs and ride round Kingston with the hope my next scan in February will be a good one.