Today’s post comes from guest author, Patrick S.
Prepare to go super deep. I have recently been confronted with some personal challenges of epic proportions.
[ep-ik] –adjective Also, ep·i·cal.
1. noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usuallycentered upon a hero, in which a series of greatachievements or events is narrated in elevated style:Homer’s Iliad is an epic poem.
2. resembling or suggesting such poetry: an epic novel on the founding of the country.
3. heroic; majestic; impressively great: the epic events of the war.
4. of unusually great size or extent: a crime wave of epic proportions.
I believe that the lessons that we have to learn to run and ski and hike faster have nothing to do with running, skiing, and hiking. Instead, we have to look at the basics of how energy flows from one source to another (which is called thermodynamics!), and how to know when energy is too much or too little. When we want to race fast, or improve our relationships, or understand why sometimes you just need to accept the use of a crutch in your life (for a time) to get un-stuck, we have to look deeper about how energy is used to create something.
Co-creation, supposedly a business term, is a concept that explains how two sources of chaotic energy come together to make something new. I was fascinated when I first heard about that term but still didn’t quite understand it. I actually still don’t completely get it. But then, it dawned on me the other day when I tried starting a fire.
I packed the newspaper a little too tight and my lighter wouldn’t light it. I thought that was confusing, because the paper is fuel and the lighter is the energy used to start it – why doesn’t the paper just instantly burn when I put the energy into it? Further, why do I have to use paper, why can’t I just light the logs with the lighter’s flame? I don’t know why, but what I do know is that if I hold the lighter there long enough, the paper burns, and grows, and becomes a fire that burns on it’s own.
The moment that the paper doesn’t need the fire to sustain itself is the moment of co-creation (I think). It’s a magic moment where something entirely new has been born, and it is alive and separate of the source from whence it came.
This idea of a separation of energy needed to get something moving applies to everything, but we forget to apply it to so much of our lives! When we train as younger people, we think that we can just put the lighter up to the logs and the fire will start. It takes years to learn that you have to start with some paper, and even then if the paper is packed too tight it can take a little time of nurturing with the lighter for the paper to burn on it’s own.
But if the conditions are right and a little time has passed, the paper will burn all by it’s self. The magic in all of this is that once the paper burns on it’s own, it doesn’t need anything to keep burning. Then after a while the logs burn from the paper, and it can continue on from there as long as a larger fuel is added to the fire.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.
This is exactly how training works. It may be easy to mistake the growing of the fire and the adding of bigger fuel for working harder, or pulling in more resources like trainers, and facilities, and expensive equipment. But instead, adding these things is only like using a bigger lighter. Fire doesn’t have to be encouraged to burn, instead it will burn on it’s own. All you have to do is apply a little energy in the beginning, and make sure that a bigger set of fuel is there for it to be burned. Understanding this difference is all you have to learn.
The great thing is that when YOU are the fire that’s burning on your own, you don’t need any help. You will just burn, and keep on burning all of the fuel that is placed in front of you. You won’t need to be pampered into being fast, and you won’t need some stupid sports goo, or a new expensive bike or skis, or the coolest place to live. Best of all, you won’t have to break your body and mind in half by running so god damned hard. You’ll just run!
I showed up at Arctic Valley road today after a couple of weeks of existential and philosophical brain explosion. I’ve been on a bender and haven’t run, and the 6 miles of military hill-road was covered in fresh snow. Others were time-trialing, and the snow could have been mentally crushing. Instead of thinking of the snow as a problem, I reminded myself that I should accept that it will make me slower and I eased up enough for it not to ruin me before I started. I also didn’t push my dehydrated and achy party legs (with 2 days recovery) very hard, knowing that they would also make me slower.
After a total defeat of a slow beginning, I was cruising by mile 4 with no head game in sight. I passed the veteran runner I started with at mile 5 and finished 30 seconds ahead of him.