Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free-
The way in which our environment conditions us is more prevalent, and dare I say – perverse, than we appreciate. This topic is wide-ranging and fairly dense with meaning and purpose. In order to present it to you openly, and with an honest heart? We need to look into the dark areas of our souls.
Seldom do we realize that the appearance of unnatural looking/tasting and pretty benign “things,” like the latest carbon fiber/electronic shifting bikes, chestnut praline latte’s, yoga mats and attire, tasteless candy, processed food, and trendy running attire owe their tantalizing properties to the way in which we are conditioned. The way in which the environment we live in shapes our behavior – no drool or droll needed, well maybe just a little?!? I caught myself recently lusting over a new Stevens Super Prestige Disc CX bike for no apparent reason other than it looks like good sex. Why is this so? I have some nice bikes already … The same holds true for other savory objects, such a new the colorful yoga mat for the aspiring yogi, an empty Starbucks cup for the coffee connoisseur , and new shoes for the runners lurking out there.
What scares my personally and as a society, is that, as sophisticated as this conditioning may seem, much of it is mediated unconsciously to us, beneath the nadir of our conscious and awareness.
Why do I desire a new pair of Brooks running shoes, when I can’t even run? This is really scary!
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 …
Why didn’t I learn to treat everything like it was the last time. My greatest regret was how much I believed in the future-
” … Of course! Your blog is just another way of saying we all want to live in a hedonic present, a present where everything is easy and we suffer no consequences for making “whatever” choices we make, the moment we make them. If only more people took notice of how unsuccessful and unhappy a life would be, from adopting a living in the present moment only approach. Are we too lost in ourselves to strike a balance!”
Balance from whose perspective? Mine, that dude over yonder, or your own …
Moving forward, one of the main undercurrents to keep in mind as you skim over these posts is: To whom do you owe your greatest allegiance? Do you owe your allegiance to your yoga studio, running club, cycling team, your family, your abusive workout regime?
Life, isn’t just a competition between our now self and our future self. We have for all intents and purposes, an infinite number of future selves, all of whom potentially have competing interests and competing desires.
The question we face when deciding to do “whatever“: Do we abuse our bodies now or save ourselves for the future? Or rather, how much time and energy do we spend now and how much do we save for later in life? In both of these cases, the answer is – It depends … Dude.
… of young man whose handsome face has brought him plenty of success in the past and is now ever-ready for a new encounter, a fresh-experience, always eager to set off into the unknown territory of a little adventure, never taken by surprise because he has worked out everything in advance and is waiting to see what happens, a man who will never overlook any erotic opportunity, whose first glance probes every woman’s sensuality, and explores it, without discriminating between his friend’s wife and the parlour-maid who opens the door to him. Such men are described with a certain facile contempt as lady-killers, but the term has a nugget of truthful observation in it, for in fact all the passionate instincts of the chase are present in their ceaseless vigilance: the stalking of the prey, the excitement and mental cruelty of the kill. They are constantly on the alert, always ready and willing to follow the trail of an adventure to the very edge of the abyss. They are full of passion all the time, but it is the passion of a gambler rather than a lover, cold, calculating and dangerous. Some are so persistent that their whole lives, long after their youth is spent, are made an eternal adventure by this expectation. Each of their days is resolved into hundreds of small sensual experiences – a look exchanged in passing, a fleeting smile, knees brushing together as a couple sit opposite each other – and the year, in its own turn, dissolves into hundreds of such days in which sensuous experience is the constantly flowing, nourishing, inspiring source of life.
– Stefan Zweig, The Burning Secret and other stories
Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before-
Do you find it difficult to resist temptation related to physical endeavors?
Picture the difference between wanting to run a 2:30:00 marathon and not being able to finish one (runners are easily stirred up. If you like, pick something that resonates with you). Now imagine a plyo-band stretched between you and the “thing” you want to achieve, pulling evenly on you, drawing you close. We have a hard time staying in tension and resisting the pull. So we do things: we purchase the latest running gadgets, try new activities the day before an event to release the ever-growing tension.
The image I am trying to paint for you is that once we release the tension, we feel better.
However, out here in the real world? Reality is markedly different. Sure for a few fleeting moments we feel better … Then the morning of the event arrives and in a flash, second guessing creeps in, doubt shows up alongside you and we go back to feeling the same as before. Welcome my friends to the Hedonic Treadmill.
We relentlessly pursue things and experiences that we think will make us happier. But once we acquire them, we quickly return to our previous level of happiness. Then we start looking for the next latest and greatest “thing” … 5k-10k-1/2 Marathon-Marathon-Triathalon-Ultra events … The sweet new Felt carbon-fiber tri bike you’ve been lusting after? The first time you sling your leg over the top tube feels like good sex. You’ve dreamed of this moment all season long. Although, 128 miles later the bike feels like every other bike you’ve ever owned, saddle sore and all. What better time to start lusting after another new bike, another gadget. The Hedonic Treadmill patiently awaits your arrival …
When I work with folks away from this rambling blogging thing, I lament, nauseously about building tension. Breathing, muscle activation and willpower? What? Willpower … Willpower is mastering tension not always getting what we want, when we want it, releasing the tension we have patiently building.
Creating tension is a beautiful and empowering process, embrace it and be well today.