One of my biggest joys is to run on trails in the woods. To me there is something peaceful to move close through the nature and I think that it is in the nature of trails to make the runner to be in the moment.
Coming from competitive mountain biking I have spent many years of hard training to improve my mountain biking capacity. Constantly involved with improving myself. When I started to run my training rounds were much like how I did my mountain biking training. As soon as my body adjusted to my new discipline I started to run hard and fast. I simply brought my old pattern into my new passion.
The pattern I am talking about here is to always push the limit so I can be better but there is something unspoken about this behavior which I felt was a little unsettling. Frankly I took a while before I noticed that there was something uneasy about the whole thing. It went something like this: if I am constantly engaged with trying to get better, what does that tell me about how happy I am with the current version of me?
My way of doing life seemed pretty much what others were doing with their lives.
Some time back I was asked the question about how I am planning my racing for the next season and I was puzzled by what came up in my head and I answered ”I really don’t know”. What was not entirely clear to me then was that when I was asked this, my foundation for how I looked at myself and the world around me had started to shift, and it was dragging my thoughts about my racing along with it. When I got more comfortable with what had happened to me I started to notice how much clearer my head was. In this clarity I knew beyond any doubt that I was done racing. The funny part is that it wasn’t even a decision to make. It was like the decision already had been made and now I was being informed.
I think that one of the biggest illusions that our minds cling on to is that everything can be made better. When we take a closer look at this idea of improvement we can notice an interesting thing. Improvements goes with comparison. Without a comparison we cannot feel improvement. Right?!
So we work hard, we do what it takes and finally we are there….Wow, I made it. Everything feels great. The thing you worked so hard for is suddenly within your reach, ready to be pulled in and once reeled in it tastes so good…but for how long?
I think that we rarely are aware of what happens next or we choose to ignore it. When I look into my own life and really pull out the memories of my ”victories” I can’t help noticing that it happens really fast, doesn’t it? Doesn’t the victory loose its taste a little to quickly?
For a long time I attributed this phenomena to our ability to adjust to new situations and circumstances but I am not sure any more. Now I more wonder if the taste in our victories is real or just something we are making up.
Without noticing it we cannot really remember how it was before we made the improvement. We can force ourselves to remember but the joy over the improvement gets smaller and smaller and before we know it we cannot feel our new improvement. We cannot feel it because it has become the same thing what we were trying to get away from in the first place. And slowly we feel an emptiness growing inside of us. An emptiness that soon enough gets filled with a familiar and nagging feeling. It feel like an uncomfortable bed that is too hard and before we know it, voilá, there it is, a brand new goal to start striving for. Look how shiny it is. All of a sudden we feel alive again, inspired.
But it doesn’t matter whether the ”new better” is made of a future personality improvement or external amenities this seems to be the game that most of us sign up for. The game seems to consist of disliking where we are, setting up something we think we will like, pursue it, attain/achieve it, back to disliking where we are. And we all play it…until we die. Round and round we go, in this enormous hamster wheel which we named ”Life”, until we see something new.
I love running in the forrest. Nowadays I sometimes even stop to enjoy a moment. And then I continue running again.
How about you?