I was out on a training run earlier this week and I had a moment of clarity when it comes to surrender. I have written, considered and pondered on surrender many times so if it sounds familiar — it’s not deja vu.
Surrender, in this case, is about ceasing to resist. Because if what we resist persists — then what I desist will cease?? .. or something like that.
Anyway, we were headed out with 10 miles as the goal and I was eating a Clif bar on the way there. Starting a long run hungry is never a good plan so already I was a little behind the 8 ball.
We went to one of our favorite metro parks. It’s a beautiful place to run but for flatlanders like us it can be tough so we expected it to be a harder day.
However, at 3.5 miles it felt like 5, and at 5.5 I thought surely it would get easier. I mean we were more than halfway done. I use these fun little mind games all the time for long runs. At mile 7, I started to really resist the whole thing. We headed into a really muddy area and my attitude took a serious nosedive. And I thought, “If I decide this is terrible or the worst or whatever I am making it harder because I am resisting what is. I am fighting the moment I am in — wanting it to be different.”
I thought what if I gave up the fight and I embraced the suck — as they say?
And you know what, it was still really difficult but my mind was calmer. I wasn’t doing all this mental wrangling inside. I was just getting it done.
Now before we get all crazy thinking I have got this figured out — I don’t. But I am getting better at it.
I realized I have spent many a miles — hundreds if not closer to a thousand — lamenting the weather, the terrain, the difficulty and it never helped. Not once. Not even a little.
But I kept doing it because I wanted it to be different than it was. I never considered how I thought kicking, screaming, complaining or quitting would help. I just did it because I didn’t want to be with the discomfort of it all. I didn’t know how to be with it. I was in some respects, even if it was only on the inside, having a tantrum because things weren’t going my way.
I never considered what “going my way” even meant or how everything going my way doesn’t push me to grow, or to learn, or to change.
I say I run ultras because I want the challenge. But there’s a part of me that only wants it if it’s sunny, dry weather, minimal roots, no wind, 55 degrees and oh yeah, I feel motivated and energetic.
What I am really saying is I like the idea of a challenge without any of that pesky, what’s it called? Oh, yeah, challenge.
Makes you think.
We all want, or many of us want, transformation but we get a little skittish about stepping into the fire that — you know — allows for transformation. It begs the question, do I want transformation or merely gratification that looks like transformation?
Sure, transformation can be gratifying but first there is sacrifice. There is the discomfort of growth.
If you get the prize without some level of pain or effort, I think it’s called gluttony. Not everything has to be difficult or a struggle but it often is for us mere humans because we loathe change, we frequently resist things we even know are good for us.
Think about it.
We stay up late even when we can barely keep our eyes open.
We overeat even while actively saying, “OMG I am so full.”
We start our diets on Monday because Friday is for — not starting diets.
There is a reason that people often say they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We try the same old bad habits over and over hoping, praying that the change we desire will come in a stocking overnight from Santa with no effort on our part. We have to get really low in order to mean it when we say, something has to change.
We have a tremendous capacity for growth, change and resurrection from the darkest of circumstances but we also frequently have limited capacity or willingness to be uncomfortable.
There’s the rub, the rut that keeps us from our greatness.
We do not want to be uncomfortable for as long as it takes for the new normal to become comfortable.
We do not want to expend the mental energy it takes to interrupt our autopilot even if our days on autopilot already kind of suck or are giving us more of what we don’t want.
Changing momentum takes work, even if the momentum is currently swinging toward sadness, overeating, or a crappy job.
Makes you think.
Even as I am writing this I am thinking, Yeah, that’s right!!!(with enthusiasm)
But that’s the part of me currently snuggled in my favorite Uggs, post-shower eating a mini Payday while sitting on the sofa with my journal waxing poetic about change.
I am currently experiencing zero discomfort so the idea of this sounds great.
Don’t believe me?
Ever thought about getting up earlier in the morning to workout first thing until you actually needed to… on like Day 4 when the excitement has worn off or on Day 5 following after-work drinks with your friends?
Then it doesn’t feel so “yeah, that’s right!!”
You’re more like, “yeah right.” (with heavy sarcasm)
This is the way of the water, people. It picks the path of least resistance and then like water on a rock it wears you down. It erodes all of your motivation.
It takes something big to change the trajectory. In nature, that’s called a dam or a boulder. In life, that’s called you and me.
Let’s go be big, damn, bolder humans.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G