I was mid way through a grueling 50K day last Saturday, when I heard about the shootings in Arizona. As my mind reeled through the shock and horror of disbelief it fell, where it all too often has fallen in the past, on feelings of what’s the point. I was sore everywhere, and emotionally drained from the effort of containing the knowledge of yet more senseless loss of life. I considered my options.
I reasoned that courting dis-association by jumping with wild abandon into a bowl of m&m’s, or my bed, would in no way honor the fallen. If anything, I have a moral obligation to move past the paralysis of fear. My next thoughts were of the goals that I have set, and more importantly, the commitment made to a team that is only as successful as the efforts made by each and everyone of it’s members. So I turned off the TV, put on my big girl Underarmor and headed back out to the erg ready for a new source of inspiration.
Searching my IPOD for, if not a more innocent time of life, at least a period that was more naive, I decided to try ‘kicking it old school’ with Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes. I must confess, it was a bit like being trapped in a visit with really old relatives who haven’t changed a lick since way too far back in the day. At the same time, the ancient stories that were revealed, considered from a now, hopefully more sophisticated perspective, did provide food for thought.
In normal everyday life there are at least four hundred and seventy two distractions each day, and even more if you factor in decisions. Everything from paper or plastic, when one has yet again forgotten the reusable bags in the car, to how many copies of a memo to make. Every determination or call, made all day long, often by habit as much as anything else, has major and far reaching implications to the lives of everyone else around us.
Spending so much time alone with myself on my erg, without such distractions, sometimes I struggle. It can be mentally exhausting balancing an effort to stay fully present with emotions, thoughts, and feelings as they arise and the concentration required for proper form, power, and timing.
On Wednesday, a huge snow storm that began Tuesday night continued to rage. How do we measure a life? Moments lived, as in the bigger the number the better? Accomplishments – in our careers, ability to remain fashionably youthful, or stuff acquired? The sum total of every moment and what we made of it? Efforts duly noted to self correct and mend our lives? Forgiveness for ourselves or others? An ever expanding infinite presence of peace? Releasing fear? Aging with grace and dignity? Sharing time, resources, and knowledge with others? Paychecks received? Lives saved? Cookies baked? Meters rowed? How we continue to believe in love? Whether of not we gave up on ourselves despite years of setbacks, and detours? All of the above, none of the above. When all was said and done, the sheer volume of heavy snow that fell, brought a silent stillness, both spectacular and rare.
I rowed the first 15,000 meters from inside the shaken snow globe of the porch, in awe. Unfortunately, even with the help of a snowplow service, there was clean up to be done. I changed into dry rowing clothes and headed out happily, with my Mastercraft ergonomic shovel in hand. This seemed a practical time saver as I would be back to my erg in no time. Before I knew it I was soaked and sore. Thinking that lifting my head to survey what remained might encourage me, afterall I had been at it for awhile, was not all that helpful. I put my head back down and kept at it. Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoy shoveling, and find creating order out of the chaos very satisfying, it’s just that I couldn’t face the thought of rowing after such prolonged exertion.
Dripping with sweat and exhaustion, shamed by the thought of letting my team down with such a low mileage day, I consulted by phone with my calm in all storms. His clear eyed, level approach to all things, often prevails, and this was no exception. He reminded me that 15,000m was totally respectable, that my body needed time to recover, and told me in no uncertain terms, to rest.
Yesterday morning I woke up more refreshed, determined, and less sore than I had been in days. I headed off to my erg and rowed my fastest 12k ever! Aaaah, I get it, rest=renewal. Who knew? Today is January 14, and only two big mileage days stand between me and being right on course to reach the midpoint goal of my million meter journey tomorrow. Doing so will mean that in half the time this year, I have covered the total amount of mileage from last year’s challenge. The other members of our team continue to inspire me, and even though I know very little about them, I am proud to be part of their efforts. And so it goes…