August 16, 2010

Suffering & Perseverance, 2 Essential Lessons.

The last few seconds ticked down to the start and my mind was suddenly back at that place. Only moments before there was some joking, some laughter and some smiles going around, but now, my body has turned and my mind has clicked over to the inevitability to becoming one with the pain. It’s instantly readied itself to take the plunge into the pit where it takes focus and total clearance of the world and all its day to day stuff and all it’s going to do is deal with the pain that is 99% sure to arrive in just a few hours.

When I look back at the crazy week that was Cape Epic this year, this was almost daily the routine that happened. There have been so many comments that we made it look easy throughout the week. Today this photo crept into my inbox via the awesome photographer Greg Beadle. Before we go on, I want you to open this in another window and zoom in to our faces, for just a second.



Now this is the fourth day where those faces were there, most of the way through every single stage. Why the continued willingness to suffer to that level every single day for a week?

Is it the bonding experience with others that are also willing to suffer, that herd mentality?

Is it something far more primal that we, as men, find lacking in our daily lives (and women to a far lesser extent)?

Is it self-exploration in the sense of determining where your limits are, where the risks turned to a threatening reality?

Is it excitement we are after, with bouts of suffering taking us from exciting downhill to excruciating uphill again that make the excitement worth the suffering that belies it?

Is it personal at all or really about who you`re ahead of and who you are trying to catch, when its all about beating the boys?

Or do we just like the pain?

“Boredom is not just a state of mind, it’s a state of being [in the body]. I think the comfort we all seek makes us physically bored and lazy … physically turned off to all the feelings that make you human.
When I realized that, I’d never felt so alone and unfulfilled in my life.” – I am not going to divulge who said this, because I value their friendship.

How much of a role does boredom play in sport? What is the trigger that gets the couch referee off the couch and onto the trails in search of a better life?

Where does the simple search for health become a competitive streak?

Where does that streak end up being as partially obsessed as I am with pushing the limits?

I believe it starts as the simple want to be better. That is the simplest human trait ever. It’s natural to want to feel healthy. Being fat and/or unhealthy (2 different things entirely) cannot feel normal, no matter how long you have been there. The total disconnect never happens. What starts as a ride around the block may lead to two blocks, then 10, then a 20km ride, etc. Essential to the growth is connection with a group of similar minded people who keep the dreams alive and ignite the passion to do more. Because – yes we can – and – yes we will – and – damn, that was fun!

It improves the ability to see things through in a society where we can have a new spouse every few weeks, change our friends daily and have 7 careers by the age of 30. Sports, especially endurance sports, show us how to see a thing through, no matter how much it hurts. If we are willing to learn, we will also learn smarter ways to see things through, learn to spot the ways to improve most with smartest effort, not least.

Willingness to suffer and see things through is such a vital lesson to learn. Thank you, sports, for teaching me this.

Love your work.

2 Comments on “Suffering & Perseverance, 2 Essential Lessons.

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Raoul de Jongh, MandyGM. MandyGM said: RT @raouldejongh: New Post: : Suffering & Perseverance, 2 Essential Lessons. […]

August 17, 2010 at 11:27 am

Very nice posting. The vital part being ‘If we are willing to learn, we will also learn smarter ways to see things through, learn to spot the ways to improve most with smartest effort, not least. ‘ This is letting Life teach you as you challenge Life. Well spotted. Always remember to enjoy the ride as you live Life


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