You have heard all the cliches: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, feel the fear and do it anyway. I have been musing about difficult things and I find that one of the great things about getting older is that you know that you have dealt with difficult things in the past and survived.
Years ago I was a trainee tax inspector. The first time I investigated someone for not paying enough tax I couldn't sleep. The night before my first interview I woke every hour, my stomach churning. That morning I couldn't eat my breakfast and when I got to the office I spent the first half hour in the ladies'. I had written an interview brief so detailed it could have been a script for a play. A more experienced inspector was sitting in with me.
"You ok? Ready for this?" he said.
"Yes, I'm ready."
"Don't forget. It's much worse for him that it is for you." And off we went. And it was fine. I asked the right questions. The taxpayer was indeed much more nervous than I was. I tried to be firm but fair and I slipped into it: the role of the kindly but serious official. It might have been a bit of play acting but it was real enough. It was really his livelihood. He really had not been playing fair. I could do it and it was never so terrifying again.
And what else have I done?
Spoken to an audience of a thousand at a conference in Las Vegas.
Walked the length of Wales.
Sat on top of a peak in the Dolomites, hanging on to the metal cross which marked the summit because I get dizzy with heights, and come down facing into the mountain like going down a ladder as the sight of the drop would make me fall off.
Knitted a pair of socks (and I'm on my second pair now, although so slowly that I can only say it is a good thing I am not knitting for a child. He would be in adult football boots by the time I had finished his bootees).
Made a stepfamily.
I could tell you about the difficult things I have not done (lost half a stone, become a runner, for starters) but let's quit while we are ahead. That's the whole point.
What is the most difficult thing you have done?