One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful-
I had lived life as if, by necessity, my weekends had to be filled with competitions and competitive activities of one flavor or another, which had to be strenuous and intense so that I could feel productive, like I had actually accomplished more than picking up some schwag at the sign in table. My weekends, and the time spent during the week “training” ruled me! All of this magically disappeared over the prior four years due to injury and focusing more on my true self. You know what the most exciting part of not training and competing is? I couldn’t believe how much mental space was suddenly available to me. It was truly was invigorating, even more so than a grueling predawn training ride!
It was less than two years, before I fully understood that the absence of competing, was not enough to make me feel whole.
What does my life mean now?
In the last couple of years, I made a distinction between competition and play. The difference now is that I have control over competing. I can make calculated and measured choices based on what I believe is meaningful; what I believe is the best use of my talents; and what gives me a sense of value or purpose. Surrendering to this mindset has allowed me to shape the meaning of my life in cool and exciting ways.
Spending more time playing rather than competing, is simply wonderful beyond words. My thoughts are filled with happiness instead of split times and personal records, which is a gift. I’m left to explore what it means to be human or whatever … I wrestle with questions that competing left little time to be asked. Play is a source of beauty—a simple walk, an illuminating trail up ahead, a tight switchback to a challenging climb, gasping for another breath. Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? Will the Avalanche be good this year? Are 26in MTB’s still “cool”?
The many important questions to be asked …
You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave till it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know-
I went through a rough patch this past Sunday competing in the Cornhusker State Games Gravel Grinder event. Something really challenging happened that pushed a whole bunch of my buttons at once, pushing my mind and emotions into overdrive, turning what should have been a nine-hour 111.9 mile ride into nearly a twelve-hour 140+ mile ride (single speed).
I’m certain that many of you are familiar with the term “crisis reveals character” or something similar?
Whenever I get really upset about something, my emotions start to simmer and I secretly worry about my unsavory character boiling over, my dark side so to speak. Is this upset, bitchy person really me? Most of the time I like to think “things” easily slide off my back. That I’m a composed, chill sort of dude. Although when I become upset by a really difficult, or unfair situation, I sometimes contemplate or say things that I would never normally allow myself to think or say out loud.
Thankfully I don’t get so far gone that I rant in inappropriate situations, or to the wrong innocent person. However, I still say and think unsavory things that I wish I hadn’t thought or said.
“Forget it – Dude.” This crisis reveals character concept is complete and utter rubbish! When I am really upset? I’m not at my best, and I spent 30 miles (ish), cycling in horrid conditions this past Sunday, figuring this out.
Somewhere between Burr, NE and 134th and Pella Rd (Google this if you are bored) I gave the gift Grace to myself. From the start to mile 80, I was mess, a train wreck oozing with bitching and moaning. Its amazing what a little grace, cold water, kind and compassionate company can do to restore your true self.
If you claim to be a real friend then be real in your soul. If you claim to be fake then be an enemy instead-
I was in my early 30’s when we first met. This particular marathon was in a beautiful and exotic part of war-torn Baghdad, Iraq. I did not like it from the start and it only got worse from there …
I nuzzled my way onto the starting line cocky, arrogant, and self-centered. I couldn’t stand the thought of having to run through the pack, outlasting the early sprinters and generally weaving through the pedestrians. Much to my dismay, I faded back 10 miles into this scorching hot race. This was just another marathon, but I was the same person.
And there I was at the next big race in Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The same person I was a year earlier followed me to this race as well …
It finally dawned on me, blonde hair and all, that it was I, who needed to change or else I would be my own worst enemy for the rest of my life. As I began to walk the path of meaningful change in my life, I came to realize my poor marathon performances were a metaphor for the way my life works. I can cast blame and run away from poor performances, although they will keep returning until I finally face them, and owe up to them.
Over the past three years of blogging. I tried at times, and failed more often than I like, to share with you, thinking out-loud, why these particular traits of me bother me so much.
Once I set out to change myself all those years ago, I started to notice that the “old” me doesn’t come around as much anymore. When these feelings do arise out of nowhere? I tap deeper into my inner compassion and gratitude … Noticing that in some ways, I have been trying to help myself all along, I was just to cocky, arrogant, and self-centered to notice.
Arousal begins within the mind, then seeps out where fantasy propels physicality-
Is striking a match necessary in order to light a candle? The initial sparks of a freshly lit candle can yield a warm blaze, and the same simple action(s) can be applied to lighting our inner fire.
The passion building in our hearts matters just as much as what our muscles are doing in regards to sparks that can start a fire. If you are thinking about your workout program tomorrow morning, segment planning on Strava, picking out your running clothes and making sure your yoga pants are ready to go … These feelings of passion are likely to arise. If you are focused on the way your body “looks“, the woman who just breezed by you, comparing yourself to everyone in the crowd or fleeting fantasies of how “hot” and “toned” you will be after class? Odds are that your passion will decrease …
The key word folks is focus. States of flow, including flow during yoga class and while out riding early one morning, depend upon my focused attention (otherwise I keep awaking old injuries). Hence, I prefer to spark my fire by using a magnifying glass – Like a beam of light, the more pinpoint my focus, the more intense my states of flow are. A magnifying glass can intensify and focus sunlight to the point that a single beam of light will cause the candle upon which it is focused, to burn into flame … What actions do you take, to spark your inner fire?