For more than half my life, I’ve spent around 700 hours each year doing the sports I’m passionate about; climbing, trail running, cycling, and ski mountaineering. I’m a pretty detail oriented guy and have records for each day I either train, or just do these things, and I do them about 330 days each year.
2014 was my year of running, more specifically, running uphill. In November, I realized I had amassed 85,000 meters of vertical, just running. So I set the goal of 100,000 meters for 2014 and am now just 2000 away from that number.
It’s all pretty silly. What’s not silly is what it has given me. Time.
Occasionally, for long, grueling slogs, I tune in to podcasts. My favorite has become the NPR TED Radio Hour. Each show takes on a theme and uses TED Talks to further dive into the subject. Recently, a show was titled “Quiet” and included one of my favorite writers, and thinkers, Pico Iyer. One of his thoughts stuck with me, “In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. And in an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.”
It seems nearly every show, in one form or another, takes on life in these rapidly changing times. The way we live and work, the technology we use, and the stress we feel are continual topics. One is left with a feeling that human beings are moving away from being human. It’s pretty clear, more emphasis is placed on showing what we do rather than experiencing what we do.
I am no less guilty, I also catch myself falling into habits I don’t want with social media, device time, or perceiving myself busier than I am really am.
Pico Iyer’s statement deserved considering. But, it would be so easy, and cliche, to just wholeheartedly agree and carry on. So, where does it apply in my life? In your life? For me, it is applicable when I am engaged in my sports.
Ironically, the faster I move through the mountains, or the harder I push myself climbing, the slower I am actually going. Because in these moments, inside my head, everything slows down, I become present in what is suddenly a simplified world. For me, sport is the venue to feel life. Performance is how I express myself.
Ultimately, this time we dedicate to what we love might not be about what it can give us, but what it can take away, leaving us to be, and feel, who we really are.