I have felt my heart break half way up a gray, dirt, hillside in the freezing rain. I have bonked, the energy leaving my legs/face/soul on sun-baked pavement miles from home. I have tasted the metal tang of blood in my mouth with my lungs heaving on a too-steep stretch of single track. I have been deep and loved/hated it and come back for more.
I like to go hard, for better and for worse.
At Red Kite Prayer we used to say, “To suffer is to learn,” and while I think that’s true, I know now that it doesn’t tell the whole story. Learning is a cerebral affair. It stands to reason that a pair of writers spend too much time thinking about things, over intellectualizing, distilling ideas. What I can tell you is that to suffer is also to feel.
Modern living is rough. It’ll knock the stuffing out of you. Our digital lives provide a veneer of connection, but also afford others the veil of anonymity. Absent the physical cues of face-to-face interaction, tone can be hard to infer. We get careless with each other’s feelings.
For example, when I took over as co-host of The Paceline, a gig I thought I’d only have for a month or so, one of the first comments we received said, in effect, that I had made the show significantly worse. Ouch. In order to move forward as a creative person, that’s the sort of criticism you have to let go. I laughed about it. I still laugh about it. But there’s no denying it hurt a little, and that hurt has to go somewhere.
Sometimes when I do a hard thing, it gives those feelings a place to come out. It gives me a way to express them physically, to burn them off in a constructive way, and when I’m broken down physically I achieve an acceptance of myself and of my life that I might not have sitting in front of this keyboard.
There are a lot of reasons to do hard things. The more I do, the more I find.
This week’s TCI Friday asks, what’s the hardest thing you’ve done on a bike? Is that kind of effort behind you now? Or do you plan bigger and harder things in the future? Why do you push it? What are you looking for, and what have you found?