Shine your soul with the same
egoless humility as the rainbow
and no matter where you go
in this world or the next,
love will find you, attend you, and bless you-
Here’s the real deal folks, when ever I hear that I should do “something”, my resistance ramps up. For example, as a child, when I was told I had to practice my hand writing (Catholic schooling – go figure), Guess what happened? I never wanted to, and I have the scars to prove it! It should come as no surprise, that when I was introduced to how wonderful yoga and mindfulness are … I threw up my defenses and prepared for a fight.
Although, “something” keeps pulling me back to center. I have studied enough texts, read many more books, attended enough workshops (not in Bulgaria though … ), and practiced enough to know that mindfulness and yoga help(s). However, yoga and mindfulness are not the magical cure-all to every challenge we face in life.
I fell prey at the Gravel Worlds one hot breezy day last August to one particular mindfulness practice notion – That by practicing mindfulness you will magically and instantly feel relaxed – Chill. That may happen, although as I learned, the hard way, most likely it will not. By simply smiling and being fully open to the present moment, is truly what matters. I don’t practice meditation to get better at meditation. I practice meditation to wake up to this beautiful world. Think about this for a moment please … Don’t practice to get better, simply be you.
Registering for a 150+ mile gravel ride and participating in a 150+ gravel ride are two different things. I lamented: I think, I’ll take a week off of meditating and practicing yoga leading up to the race, sort of like I used to say I’d taper my training and “carbo load” (<— whatever this is), the week prior to the event. What I found out was, the conditions of my environment did not have to be perfect, that it’s fine to practice informally, and for a blonde haired dude like myself – on a complete whim, even right now. I didn’t have to taper and load to have a good ride, and I certainly don’t have to wait until I have a spare 22 minutes during the day to practice mindfulness and yoga.
What if I’m not doing it right? I don’t feel a lot of warmth and kindness toward myself right now. I’m trying to fabricate and generate all this good will toward myself and, and … Damn it! I’m just not feeling it! Sounds familiar huh?
Artificial, fleeting feelings of self-love by trying to stay positive, race day pep talks … Dear readers, after all the abuse and pain I have subjected myself to, I have arrived to the conclusion that – It’s enough to simply have the intention to be kind to your self, simply being in the present moment, no matter what may happen next.
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.
Your bike is discovery; your bike is freedom. It doesn’t matter where you are, when you’re on the saddle, you’re taken away-
To all of my faithful, kind and passionate readers … Thank you for your continued support of CultFit! I hope each and every one of you are having a magical weekend, take care and be well!
See you at the Cornhusker State Games Gravel Grinder bright and early tomorrow morning!
The course of true love never did run smooth–
Letting go of “something” is perhaps the most promising mechanism to discovering your true self, and for me personally, this meant giving up running, being attached to “gadgets” and endlessly abusing my body competing.
Giving up fighting for something that should be naturally easy, can be enormously relieving. I went from wanting to run marathons and ultra events to needing them … Comforting the tenderest of heartache after a sour performance, surgeries, ice packs, and a lingering limp is all the self-knowledge and reflection that I need. Despite my losses – I now know that I have to put my health first. This knowledge has been immediately reparative and began a cascade of positive changes and feelings of well-being that I feel deeply in this very moment: The first sip cup of coffee in the morning after riding to work.
As I slowly went through the process, grieving the loss of who I thought I wanted to be, and others thought they wanted to be through me by proxy … I also experienced the soreness and pain this “something” brought into my life. Not wanting to experience this pain again, I began to reflect on who I was, and what I truly need for ultimate fulfillment: Family and Friends, a good book, thousands of miles of gravel roads, and a quiet spot to practice yoga – no mat needed!
This kind of reflection, when done gently and over a period of time – Is pretty damn cool! Have a beautiful weekend and please take care!