March 27, 2012

The University of Adventure

I have been reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It’s a challenging book that has me nicely distracted from the world and asking good questions of myself. Most recently I read a part of the book around a speech about The Church of Reason. I`ll put it here for your reference:

The real University, he said, has no specific location. It owns no property, pays no salaries and receives no material dues. The real University is a state of mind. It is that great heritage of rational thought that has been brought down to us through the centuries and which does not exist at any specific location. It’s a state of mind which is regenerated throughout the centuries by a body of people who traditionally carry the title of professor, but even that title is not part of the real University. The real University is nothing less than the continuing body of reason itself.

In addition to this state of mind, “reason,” there’s a legal entity which is unfortunately called by the same name but which is quite another thing. This is a nonprofit corporation, a branch of the state with a specific address. It owns property, is capable of paying salaries, of receiving money and of responding to legislative pressures in the process.

But this second university, the legal corporation, cannot teach, does not generate new knowledge or evaluate ideas. It is not the real University at all. It is just a church building, the setting, the location at which conditions have been made favorable for the real church to exist.

It got me thinking about Ironman (yes, that topic that is so hot right now with 4 weeks till race day). For those who are tired about my Ironman rambles, replace it with your own race and relax a little while you`re at it. eg; It got me thinking about Two Oceans / Xterra / The Argus. Now breathe deep. Aaah.

With the on-going competition for real estate between the WTC and Everybody Else, our own bricks and mortar space i.e. races, have become more of a physical presence, rather than the essence of the sport. For a sport which demands so much of us, we used to have these huge races that fulfilled so much and were the biggest show, run by a family who cared for the soul of this sport. As the corporate side of our sport grows and it becomes more apparent that it is a company running the show and no longer a family, I feel more and more committed to my training and the journey that is represents. I feel more aware that every ride I undertake is a special one, that life without those magical trail runs would be worse than just racing Ironman every season and winning it. I choose 10 solo rides over a win at Ironman every single time.

So if I had to compare to the passage above, The University Building is WTC / Ironman races, but the real Ironman has no specific location. It runs no races, takes no finishers photos and doesn’t give you a medal and a free slice of pizza for moving across a line in the road. No, the real Ironman, the one I am after, the one which leaves me quiet and perceptive, tired but happy instead of obsessed and needing compression garments for my neck, is a state of mind.

Once you stop racing everyone else and start enjoying the journey you are undertaking you will find what the original idea behind this sport was all about. It’s real idea behind this beautiful sport lies in the moving energy of the group ride, the smooth long strokes out in Silvermine dam before anybody else has hit the water and can be found along that quiet stretch of road you overcame not so long ago.

As we have four weeks to go, it’s important to realise this and know that your journey towards that line in the road that rewards you with a medal will never satiate your appetite for adventure. It will never be so amazing that you will feel your cup is running over with awesome.
Find your state of mind, your University of Adventure – the real one, not the legal entity or the bricks and mortar version.

Be outside, doing sports, for yourself. Be a part of the movement, the soul what the founders of your chosen sport intended it to be. Be a part of that continuing body of reason. If you want to make a real difference, support our Pure Planet Racing initiative or get involved with the Charity. Both are striving to make huge changes to environments that need change.

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