Run for, not against... Live for

This new episode is about the continuation of my trip to Malaysia, my return to Vancouver and the race for good causes.


Let's go back to Malaysia a few weeks earlier...


Poetic reunion


Jet lag is sometimes good. My eyes were wide open since 4 o'clock in the morning. I was listening to the quietness of the night, lulled by the hum of the fan and the song of the night insects. I know that my favorite part of the day will soon come: the sunrise. It is so beautiful to hear the world awaken, the birds initiate action, the sky slipping the blanket of night, studded with the last faint stars in the firmament. All is quiet and the worlds are transitioning.


I went for a jog in the area and it was beautiful. It was still dark and I heard the first call to prayer. The heady scents of jasmine, frangipani and other flowers filled the air. There is always a first bird that sings, before another responds, and then the other types of birds also engage in morning conversations. I have a feeling that monkeys sometimes join in this animal choir. I love listening to the complex songs of the birds. It seems to me that they are ancestral songs, mythical stories about the fragility and beauty of life, reunion, the beauty of the world and love. In Australia, I remember my family saying to me, "The first few days you are amazed and then as time goes by you wish they would shut up!" We underestimate these tenors...


The artistic bloom


Art is becoming a bigger part of my life. I realized recently (March 31) that a year ago I was on stage for the "De la plume à la Scène" (From the Pen to the Stage) project at La Boussole for this one performance. Today, I am preparing another piece with Magda Ochoa. I can't say too much about it, but after a six-handed adaptation phase, I will have to learn my text to be ready for the end of September. I am very lucky to be able to work to give others the chance to do forum theater and to continue performing myself.


I will also continue the music with my two musician acolytes, Daniel and Massimo. We play Daniel's original pieces and mine that Massimo arranges. We did an open stage and it was the first time I played as a trio on stage. It had been a long time since I had played on stage again as a musician and I was very stressed. I had to say that I showed up a few minutes before we were told it was our turn. We could only do two songs. Daniel's song was okay, but on mine, I was a little bit more nervous and I crashed at one point. Fortunately, Daniel and Massimo had saved my ass and it didn't get along too well.


Our rehearsals make me feel good.


The language


When I arrived, I was as moved by the warmth finally found as I was by the Bahasa Malaysia on the road signs and advertisements. I have not been in contact with this language for very long, just like with Malagasy, but these are languages very close to me, languages of the heart, languages of adoption. I felt more than welcomed in these countries, I felt at home, integrated for real, absorbed as she is. We took Nathalie as she is: Reunionese, French, weird, unique, artistic, funny, human. I can imagine that everyone's experiences are different and that I was probably lucky, but I only speak from my perspective, I admit it.


I am happy to understand most of the basic interactions in Bahasa Malaysia. It's like an echo of my previous life, when I was living in Malaysia in 2019... 


I would love to learn Cantonese to better communicate with my family but that's a goal for next year.




I experienced a lot of happiness in Malaysia. I have taken a step back from this happiness and in my opinion, I also owe it to others. Of course, I am the driving force behind all this, but we evolve through contact with others.


I am getting stronger to be able to help others.


A trip to the head cutters and cultural correspondence


We went to the Mari-Mari cultural center and it was a beautiful experience. Nestled in a lush jungle, this cultural center allows you to discover along a path the customs and cultures of the different tribes present in the region of Sabah, on the island of Borneo.

The vegetation clearly reminded me of the Seychelles. The trees are tall, contrary to Reunion Island which is swept by cyclones and where the vegetation had to grow denser to resist the assaults of the powerful winds. The leaves of the trees are also very big. A small stream flowed and made a chime sound.


It was well done, not condescending or colonialist and highlighted local traditions well. It reminded me of the Maori cultural experiences in New Zealand (the best approach I've seen yet). Obviously, there are also cultural similarities all around the Pacific Ocean. 

A few things in the huts also once again validated the theories I had read about Malaysian travelers arriving in Madagascar. We have in common not only food but crafts: I saw a bertel (Reunionese name for a woven backpack), vans (Reunionese name for round woven baskets) and rattan objects (called ratan in Bahasa Malaysia). It's beautiful and moving to think that we are all so connected.


We experienced a traditional trampoline, made only of branches and rattan. The small group of foreigners that we were took the trampoline. The small group of strangers that we were took the hand and pressed several times in cadence to have everyone jump in the air after a countdown. When you experience this simple "game", you feel the cohesion of the group. We all go up in the air together to try to catch an object fixed to the ceiling. Symbolically speaking, it is very strong.


It was also very symbolic to hear our guide talk about the blade used to cut the heads of the enemies and to show us one. He explained to us that each hole in the blade meant the number of heads cut off by that same blade; it had eight. I thought that the holes would weaken the blade, but my companion explained to me that on the contrary, the area around it is only strengthened. It reminds me of kintsugi.


Marine maternal bond


Despite the presence of jellyfish, some of them apparently almost deadly, I found the crystal clear water of the sea again. I was so happy to finally swim with the fish. This is my cradle. I have a very carnal relationship with the ocean.


My partner confessed to me that he came with me but was not totally comfortable in this element. For me, being in the water means being safe. To be in the sea is to be in my element, to be the element, to be the sea itself. I was probably a sea animal in a previous life. Of course, the corals are a bit dark sometimes and full of creatures but I can't help it, I have to go and see them, to swim (for hours if possible), to float, to explore the lagoons, to hear sounds from outside absorbed and to hear the fish munching on the corals, to hear the lapping of the waves on the beach, to be tossed by them.


The feeling of salt on my skin brought me back to my childhood, to those Sundays at the beach, to the soft sand under my steps in the water, to those sorbets after a good bath obtained while running behind the ice cream truck with music as hypnotizing as the sirens' song.


End of the holidays...


I am finishing writing this article as the vacations are coming to an end. It was a great reunion after more than three years. I was able to reconnect with nature and my family. Again, I know I am very lucky and I think of those who can't go home for a thousand reasons. I want to send them my love.


... and back to Vancouver


The return was not as brutal as I thought. I returned to people I like, people I love, a job I really enjoy and a nice routine.


I came back with a lot of solar energy in me, ready to share it with everyone.


The BMO Race


I did the BMO Race recently. I used to hate running, especially in temperate climates because the cold air entering my lungs felt like a thousand needles in my lungs. 

Then I thought I should try things I didn't like or didn't usually do. So running was at the top of my list. Then I was curious to see what it would be like to be part of a race. I say be part of, not run against, fight against. I wanted to be part of something. I was not disappointed.


I wanted to train for at least two months but between a busy schedule and a vacation where I really relaxed, running was not the priority. So I went in with really minimal training. I was going to run from time to time in the gym, on an elliptical, just to preserve my joints.


The day before the race, I went to get my bib and my t-shirt and I was really surprised that it was already like going to a party. Of course, there is the commercial aspect: they want to sell you the latest equipment, the best cereal bars and other socks promising great things. But beyond that, there are also organizations that show other things: the different marathon destinations, charities...


This race exists since 1972 and attracts thousands of participants. There are three races to choose from: the marathon (42.2 km), the half-marathon (21.1 km) or the 8 km. You can run as an individual or in a team and you can even run for a charity listed on their website.


Before the race, I had some time and joined the crowd that had gone to cheer on the strangers running the half marathon. I thought it was powerful to give courage to people who give of themselves without us knowing each other.


At the starting line, the atmosphere was very good, far from the pure and hard competition.


The image of a man holding a sign with the words "Remember your 'why'" remains with me. Of course, I thought about my "why" and in that moment I said to myself, I am going to run for the people who can't do this race and for the people I love. Those words played over and over in my head.


Ironically enough, during the first few meters, a homeless man, sitting next to his bike and bags, was watching us go by... Just as absurd as the image of orange school buses, those shuttles ready to take us away and this man, itinerant, covered with a comforter, before brochures of new condos and real estate development around him.


So it really got me thinking about my "why", that I want to run for something, that when I live and work, I do it for a cause: others.


I could have run against or for myself and I probably did, running against my time, against numbers but in the end, what's the point? Why run against when you can run for? The fact of making sense, of being focused on my inner messages, of replaying the names of the people I love, and then at a certain point, I came to a moment that I lived in the Seychelles, the "rescue" of my father. I put it in brackets because those are his words, not mine. For me, I just had to do it. I said to myself: think back to that moment when you had to act, keep calm and breathe well, tell yourself that you can do it, without pressure, without forcing, you can swim.


I enjoyed being overtaken, watching people walk, never feeling superior or inferior but part of the whole, like a fish in a school of fish.


At the end, I had the sun in my eyes and not my sunglasses. I wanted to push, I accelerated a little to cross the finish line. I almost broke my face on a small marker separating the 8kms and half-marathon finishes that was not well marked. Then I stopped suddenly, not being able to continue my stride and I really almost threw up. This stop was too brutal for my body and made me realize that I had asked a lot from my body, that it was ok but that I shouldn't push it either.


Then I was given a medal for participating but what I see when I look at it are the messages I had at that moment: run for those who can't and those I love.