This will make little sense, and is probably not worth your time. If the prose is too purple for your taste, move on and return when I have come to my senses.
I have been experiencing a very wee bit of real life. No, not the kind of "real" one gets where television cameras are focused on hotel heiresses or self-absorbed MTVers whose most desparate desire is to be on TV. That "reality" is as authentic as silicone and nose jobs. Those cameras are focused on organisms doing nothing more than seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Even invertebrates do that. You need a backbone to live real life. To explain . . .
Real life involves the ache I feel right this minute as I sit here in my chair writing while Superpounce reads her "Goosebumps" novel. Tonight, I don't mean the ache in the muscles I'm trying to repair from their bout with a cervical disc rupture. I mean an ache for a friend who is mourning, a very dear young friend who has been a great encouragement to me.
I know I cannot be experiencing one tenth of her emotion, but I am experiencing some of it, and I ache for her. It is a powerless kind of ache, because there is really nothing I can do to make things "all better," and in fact, there is much I can do and say wrong to make things worse.
I'm not used to feeling powerless. I don't like it. I am used to avoiding pain. I have gone through many of my 40 previous years avoiding close connections with all but a few persons, partly I guess out of inherrent shyness and partly because close connections can be painful. Pain, in the unexamined or immature life, is to be avoided at all costs in pursuit of pleasure, no matter how transient. The invertebrates and hotel heiresses do it, after all. If, however, you have a backbone, pain is sometimes part of the road you must travel if you are headed in the right direction.
Perhaps I am maturing, though I wonder sometimes. But the experience of training for and doing triathlons is certainly part of a process that is making me more fully human. I'm not sure I even know how.
I suppose triathlon teaches and re-teaches me daily to be where I am. Cursing the weather or wanting to be faster or stronger does not change the now. Just deal. If you look to far forward, you'll miss the view in that pasture you're riding by or the feel of the water gliding on your outstretched arm. How do you know you're alive if you can't feel the joy,
or the pain?
I guess the sport continues to teach me not to fear--not to fear effort, not to fear failure, not to fear pain or discomfort, even not to fear fear. Maybe there is something special in coming to a sport where no one starts out strong in all three disciplines. Maybe conquering (and re-conquering every day) the fear of the water or the doubts in my own ability works a courage or humanity muscle so I can empathisize instead of walling myself away from the world.
Maybe the experience of training simply tells me that pain today is temporary for tomorrow's blessing.
I don't know. And sometimes that's OK too.