Loving the sufferfest
I’m on a long climb in Dolomites of Italy, and the depth of my suffering cannot be told by the grimace on my face. It’s a steep, nasty mountain pass, and I’m alone with another 40km to go. My legs are cooking as the gradient jumps to 14%, but I stand up and hammer with my focus on the next corner…
If you’re not a cyclist you’re probably wondering why we willingly endure horrible suffering for the sake of a bike ride? It’s about the moment, it’s about performing at your limit, it’s about Passion.
Are you willing to suffer for your sport?
If the answer is yes, you could call it a labour of love. If you’re truly passionate about something, you’ll be willing to work at it. On the flipside, if it’s just something you do, but don’t want to suffer for it, then it’s not your passion, or your love.
One of the most enjoyable things about road biking is the suffering; the killer gradients and the long miles. In mountain biking it’s the challenge; the trail is always changing, the dirt texture is different, the rocks and debris have shifted. Neuroscience says we’re wired to minimize effort whenever possible. But sometimes, we value experiences because they’re hard, not in spite of that. The tipping point for really loving something is learning that hard work and practice leads to rewards, so we begin to value the effort itself.
You know when you know
How do you know if you’ve found your passion? And how do you know you’ve found love? Those questions can be elusive, but you’ll know when it’s right. The little thing inside that makes you never give up, keeps you up at night, and gets you excited about working on it the next day.
Honestly, some people may never find that thing. But we all have a shot at it, and it’s up to us to be open to it and seek it out. Depending on where your at in life, it may seem distant and unattainable, but the more authentic moves you make, the closer you’ll get. A big part of it is knowing yourself and defining your values.
Passion is freedom
Buddhism teaches us to experience things without clinging to them. Everything changes, everyone experiences the same moment differently, and so we must embrace impermanence and the fluidity of the moment. Suffering is measured by our ability to endure, and our choice in how we experience pain.
That element of choice is part of what allows us to feel pleasure through suffering. Having a choice gives us a sense of empowerment, and through that unfolds a road of personal discovery and actualization.
Choosing to push on when your cycling up an insane climb is about freedom. Your choosing to become fully responsible for the moment. And that is a powerful feeling, that breeds passion. The same goes for relationships, it should feel like freedom, with each day you have a choice give 100% to the moment.
Stay the course or tap out?
Is there such as thing as working at it too hard? If you’re feeling unhappy more than you’re happy, yes. If it feels incongruent with your authentic self, yes. If you’re training at your sport and hating it more than enjoying, or if you’re spending more time keeping your relationship afloat than enjoying it.
Much like an exceptional athlete, success is unrelated to innate talent but the result of deliberate practice. Each day, we have the opportunity to make our skills or relationships stronger. All it takes is a mindfulness, passion, patience and refinements in our behavior.
Wanting an end result isn’t passion
Everyone likes the idea of achieving amazing results, gaining popularity or becoming admired and respected. How about having a rockin’ athlete body? Everybody wants that — it’s easy to want that. What about believing you’ll be happy if you could “just find the one”, if you could have a family and big house…that’s not passion and it’s not what will help your relationship last.
Passion isn’t based in the motivation of wanting an end result, it’s about finding what causes you to feel freedom and get lost in the moment.
Check out my ride on Strava! https://www.strava.com/activities/1031295860