Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Real Life

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.

11 comments:

Iron Pol said...

Sometimes, a bit of empathy is all you can offer someone in pain. And often, it's enough.

I'll add some prayers for your friend to the list, today. Even if I don't know what to pray, God knows what to hear.

Flatman said...

Ditto I.P.

Just being there for someone, even if you don't know what to say is enough. Your friend is lucky to have you, my friend.

momo said...

growth is a powerful thing, and you are experiencing that in abundance. tri training has done that for me, too. it is amazing, isn't it? what we learn about ourselves and the world around us?

i would echo what pol and flatman have said. just being there for your friend who is hurting is a lot. oftentimes words are inadequate and unnecessary. i posted about a situation with a friend of mine. i was hurting deeply about the death of my mom, she didn't ask, she didn't try to solve anything, she just came up to me one day, gave me a huge hug - no words - and left it at that. it was perfect, i knew she cared and it was what i needed at that point. i hope all goes well with your friend.

21stCenturyMom said...

It sounds like you are growing and maturing and developing more compassion. I don't know if training has anything to do with it but I don't know that it doesn't.

I'm really sorry for your friend and as has been said 3 times already just saying "I'm so sorry - I ache for you" and offering a shoulder to lean on or cry on is a wonderful thing for a person in pain.

Eric said...

Well said. You are truly "living" and I thank you for sharing with all of us.

From one 40 year old to another, you comments hit close to home.

Wendy said...

Caring friends can make an incredible difference in difficult circumstances. There are many different ways to be supportive, but being a friendly face in trying times is definitely one of the best.

Amy said...

Well said and beautifully written Greyhound. Your friend is truly blessed to have a friend like you.

LoneStarCrank said...

"wanting to be faster or stronger does not change the now." Well said Greyhound. Your actions for your friend are a blessing.

Ride on!

TriBoomer said...

Dog,

Don't forget we heal and repair when we are still. Friends hear your compassion through your quiet presence.

Stay tuned...

Taconite Boy said...

Pray for your friend. The bottle of being alone, or isolation. I used to drink that alot. This community of bloggers is a great place to break the habit eh?
I missed your call last night, wee bit busy :(

TriJack said...

fear reminds me to be humble, reminds me that i am the equal of every man and woman, and reminds me that my time is finite. very healthy concept for me, at least.
i enjoyed your post gh... thanks for reflecting...