Thursday, August 13, 2009
There it is. Right in front of you. You can't see the top til you get there. Once you do, you can't see the bottom anymore. It's like hell on Earth while your pedaling. But when it's over, you don't remember how bad it was and you wonder about the next one, the bigger one, the steeper one, the harder one.... and so goes life....
Last weekend, I went to the mountains of North Georgia for what I refer to as a vacation--- full days of biking up the hardest mountains you can find, running the trails, and swimming carefree miles in the cool, open waters. For me, I can't imagine a vacation better than days with conquests so challenging you can't believe them when you see them. And nights so exhausted and yet strangely exhilarated by the fact that you did! Such a dichotomy of emotions....
We spent hours on the bikes during the three days we were there. It was good for me, for my mind and for my heart. I fill my life with people because I love people. I love their stories, I love to watch their reactions and emotions. People fascinate me with their unique struggles and backgrounds and dreams. I love the intimacy of quiet conversations about love and hope and despair. And I love them more when they are shared over the open road in the darkness of the wee hours of the morning. The last year has been so tough for me. I lost my baby, I lost my best friend and in some ways, I think I lost my mind. The pain in my heart is so intense that I feel the only expression is physical. I take the pain in my heart and disperse it into my workouts. When my body is tired, my mind is still.
As we biked up the steepest climb in North Georgia, I thought at moments that my quadriceps might rip from the bone. The air was thin, my lungs were hungry and at one point the darkness was closing in so rapidly I thought I might not even get my foot down in time. My chest was pounding as my heartrate maxed and I don't even know where the strength came from to take even one more pedal stroke. Each corner we turned revealed an even steeper climb with only the promise of another corner ahead. An hour and five minutes uphill. Pure Torture. But, when we reached the top and looked out over the valley, it was so clear, so beautiful, and so obvious. We couldn't see the whole picture until the end, not until we could really appreciate it. That's just how it is.... That mountain view would have been nice to someone who had driven up there but it would never have compared to the view we got to see. We put in the work and thus reaped our own reward- a deeper satisfaction in our work and a greater appreciation of the challenge.
We high-fived and gave our pats on the backs and exclaimed that we had never seen such a beautiful sight. Most importantly, though, we couldn't believe how far we had come. In the moment, in the pain, it was just about squeezing one more push out of tired legs..... left, then right, then left, then right. Now with the whole picture in view, it was the realization that the journey, no matter how hard or how long is always worth the effort.
I climbed back on my bike and started down the mountain.
I never hit the brakes.
40 mph clipped into a bicycle is a freedom and fear like nothing else.
“I believe life is constantly testing us for our level of commitment, and life's greatest rewards are reserved for those who demonstrate a never-ending commitment to act until they achieve. This level of resolve can move mountains, but it must be constant and consistent. As simplistic as this may sound, it is still the common denominator separating those who live their dreams from those who live in regret.” ~ Anthony Robbins