Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reasons

Cycling is so hard, the suffering is so intense, that it’s absolutely cleansing. The pain is so deep and strong that a curtain descends over your brain... Once, someone asked me what pleasure I took in riding for so long. ’Pleasure?’ I said. ’I don’t understand the question.’ I didn’t do it for pleasure, I did it for pain."
-Lance Armstrong


Sometimes I find myself looking forward to a day when I ride simply because I want to, not because I need to.  If there is an external barometer of my happiness, in some ways it could be described as inversely related to my athletic ambition.  I suspect that I am not alone in this, although it has taken me years to recognize it.  To the driven, maximizing one's achievements is equal parts moral compulsion and snipe hunt: who would settle for less?  But how can we reach our potential in every worthy pursuit?  Decisions are thrust upon us, and at times, I question certain of my choices.

Anesthesia through limitless exertion appears preferable to any other kind: it honors our gifts more truly.  Yet anesthesia by its lights offers mere superficial succor, sequestering symptoms and side effects -- it does not curb the malady.  Equally, the relief it offers is fleeting, and as we acclimate, we demand more, ultimately ensuring that we fall short in our grasp for stable orbit. 

We must always interrogate our reasons.  Past choices are made, but future ones are not faits accomplis.  Sometimes the familiar path of least resistance is a mere Mobius strip, bringing us glimpses of our destination, but presenting no true means of bridging the gap.  It is incumbent upon us to find the way by constant assessment, even if honest reflection risks fatal damage to long-treasured premises.