Who Wants Normal Anyway?

As we have resurrected the torture report, it has me thinking about why we started it in the first place. Yes, it was for accountability for training but I have been realizing it was actually so much more. We were training for a big, epic goal and we wanted to believe it was possible. I mean, at the time, covering 50 miles on foot seemed only a little bit within our reach.

Quite honestly, even during that day there were moments, and hours, that reaching 50 miles seemed barely within our grasp. And that’s what I think about mostly when considering how the Torture Report came into being. It was only a little tongue in cheek, the rest of it was wing and a prayer.

It was about digging deep and reaching far in our lives. What big, audacious goal could we set and move toward? What vision could we dream up and believe in so hard that it quite literally dropped into being?

These physical feats have never solely been about being “in shape.” They’ve just been the shape of the vehicle I’ve so frequently used to remind me that life is wide open. We’ve all spent so much time in the last few months secretly and not-so-secretly wishing for normalcy. We’ve wanted our lives back.

And I had the question come into my mind: Do I really?

I mean, was I really living as fully as I possibly could in early March? A little bit, yes, but a whole lot was a solid, no. And all of this unrest that’s been going on both outside in the world and inside of me as a person has been a lot to manage some days, and some hours.

But I realized it’s the friction, the tension that keeps us awake. It keeps us fully alive. It keeps us on the field of life. It keeps us from escaping to the sidelines. We have been telling ourselves that 2020 is the worst year ever. We’ve been saying we are ready to get off this ride. We’ve been telling ourselves all these stories about the year, and most of them are negative.

And while out training yesterday it occurred to me that some of my most epic moments have come from intense experiences. I have shared on more than one occasion that during a race, cookies taste sweeter, water tastes fresher and air breathes deeper into my lungs. And now I wonder, is it the race that’s causing that experience or is that what it means to be fully awake to life?

Have we, for the first time, been shaken enough that we are so fully awake that we realize what the hell is going on with us, with the world? Does it feel this way because this is how times that demand change feel? Is this simply a sign that we have been drawn fully back into our lives and into our bodies and we don’t like it because we’ve been asleep at the switch.

Normalcy is a myth. Who decides what’s normal, anyway? Familiarity is what we are really reaching for and it’s only because it feels comfortable. Even when it feels terrible, it’s what we know.

Ask yourself, are you reaching for familiarity? Are you reaching for the feeling that lets you know that you are “back to normal?” And if so, remember back, it wasn’t that long ago. Does feeling normal also make you feel alive? Yeah, me neither.

All these years of running, and sometimes even the friction of not running, have shown me how to embrace discomfort. The training grounds of races have actually been the training ground for my life. I learn some of the most valuable lessons when it’s just me and the trail. But it’s in the application of them to my life that it really matters. Otherwise it’s just theory. It’s abstract.

Feeling caged inside these last few months has shown me just how imprisoned I was already. I am often suffocated by my own expectations. I am frequently hemmed in by what I believe it means to be  “good.” And I have been silenced by what I imagined it means to be polite.

The status quo hasn’t been working for me. I imagine it hasn’t really been working for you. It’s just what we’ve been used to. What would it mean to blow the doors off of expectation? What would it mean to surrender the need to please everyone else? What would it mean to open your mouth and speak your truth?

Run the race. Quit the job. Go to therapy. Start the business. Follow your intuition. Whatever it is that’s calling you to live fully awake, listen to it. Listen to it now. It’s been asking you to listen for far too long.

Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G

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