Saturday, February 20, 2010

it builds character

there are certain moments in life when we're confronted by the realities of the challenges that lie before us, and whatever illusions, delusions, fantasies, or lies we've used to maintain our complacency, indolence, or inaction are dispelled by the face of truth.

you see it often in endurance sports. at some point, whether in the midst of the training cycle or the culmination of race day, whether when in the prelude or apex or epilogue of a workout or an event, every endurance athlete comes to a dawning realization of the sheer scale and magnitude of the awesome visage of the challenge that they are undertaking.

different people respond to this in different ways. there's trepidation, uncertainty, anxiety, nervousness, fear. sometimes guised beneath light humor and bravado, sometimes shrouded in pensive sobriety and solemnity. regardless, everyone invariably starts to consider their options, and the options always come down to the same: quit and go home, or stay and continue.

which option people choose depends on the reasoning they follow and the justifications they find. this is when the thinking begins. some deny it, some suppress it, some accept it, some embrace it. but they all do it.

and they do so in a range of behaviors, covering the spectrum from self-pity and depression and despair to resignation and determination and excitement and joy, all with a veneer of varying degrees of drama.

a friend of mine had one of the most memorable responses. lined up at 6am in the transition area at an Ironman in the midst of a freak storm forecast for wind and rain and cold, with perfect timing that hit the exact moment of silent sobriety among the competitors, he shrugged and said: eh, it builds character.

as a group, the athletes in the area roared in laughter.

thing is, we all knew he was right.

because you see, challenges are challenges for a reason. they are not pleasant, they are not easy, they are not fun. discomfort is certain, pain is definite, suffering is guaranteed, and all most assuredly in surplus.

those who choose to stay and continue in the face of such prospects must go outside their own comfort zone. if they are to endure, they must change and adapt to their conditions; if they are to overcome them, they must grow and mature in relation to their circumstances.

which means being forced past illusions, delusions, fantasies, and lies. which means being forced beyond complacency, indolence, and inaction. which means dispelling all of them to come closer to some realization of life's greater truths.

like this one:

we are more than what we are. we are more than what we sense. we are more than what we could ever believe.

and we know this because we proceed. one step at a time. one breath at a time. one thought at a time. every moment of every day of every year of every life that is the race that is the journey that is the wonder in the time through the eternity of the creation that is god's eye.

that sees itself within us.

we are more.

and to realize so, we have to do more than be or sense or believe. we have to stay and, above all, we have to continue.

1 comment:

Adam Culp (Crazy Floridian) said...

Well written. Every race and activity builds a little more character. I don't know if any of us can truly answer "why". The answers just can't be put into true words.