I reached a place today where I’d like to reside for a lifetime. Just after the initial .35mi climb, there’s relief when you turn onto xxxxxxxxx. The grade goes negative, and without any effort at all, your legs carry you forward. Pre-run I decided I needed to do more. I needed to run into the downhill instead of coasting. That’s where I found the place.
The places that actually matter are never suburbs v. cities or country A v. country B. True, those distinctions make some difference, but only because you let them, only because superficial details seem to matter when one is distanced from what’s going on mentally. That distance isn’t such a bad thing – it certainly allows one to exist in the modern world instead of a cave in India. Furthermore, better controlling the mind is incredibly challenging. As much as I buy the truth of “mindfulness” and that paying attention is all that’s necessary to eliminate boredom and illuminate the world, it doesn’t mean I actually perform these skills.
At least not very often. Maybe that’s part of the key: expecting a radically different experience 24hrs/day because you worked on your mind is as foolish as thinking you’ll be an Olympic sprinter because you ran a few practice sprints.
One of my five favorite things in xxxxxxxxx is The School of Practical Philosophy. After five semesters, there is a ceremony where a “guru,” a man who has been travelling around the world for decades teaching meditation, gives you a mantra for meditation. A month after the ceremony, I received one-on-one time with said guru and explained my struggles and, quite frankly, my disdain for meditation. “You don’t understand how close your experience is to mine, and I’ve been doing it for 30 years. All I ever get is a few seconds dipping into a better place within a long meditation session.” A few seconds?!??!?!?
Well, I got there too on xxxxxxxxx. My attention was perfect. I realized there were infinite things to observe and infinite ways I could shave time off my run. Was this just a competitive spirit masquerading as attention? Was I even paying attention if I was thinking about the future, a future where I’d forever run faster?
I snapped back into the present and kept seeing things I, traveler of this path 25+ times previously, had never before noticed. I was fast and free of the pain and effort that usually defines my running experience.
The player of the inner game comes to value the art of relaxed concentration above all other skills; he discovers a true basis for self-confidence; and he learns that the secret to winning any game lies in not trying too hard.
Again, I don’t doubt this is real, but I don’t know how to do it – thinking or believing it doesn’t make it so. There I was, though, with .3mi to go feeling I had the secret. I closed with a kick and looked down at my watch. 9:21. WTF. A full 18 seconds slower than my WR and only 2 seconds faster than my personal worst.
There’s a lesson here. I’m not yet sure what it is. Fortunately, I have a lifetime to figure it out.