A cycling Author (who will remain nameless), who is nice enough to endure my questions from time to time once told me that pain can be illuminating. It was something I knew before he wrote those words. That notion is really the foundation for this very blog. My knowledge of that fact doesn’t exclude me from wanting to ignore it. To run from the pain.
From an early age I had a feeling that the constant engagement of pain was a way for me to be a different person than the one I was. But at the age of eleven or twelve it’s hard to find the words to express those feelings, or find a way through them. Honestly I’m just now finding a way to tap into this notion of salvation through suffering. It is my hope that I’m finding a way to do this without the self destruction element that was so prevalent over the last few years (and my entire life).
This cycling Author and I weren’t talking about cycling. We were talking about James Salter’s Light Years. We were discussing whether or not I should read the book. Apparently its a hard book, one that causes one to ask questions. Apparently about friendship, fidelity and artistic ambition. Almost about like what the Fountainhead would be like if it wasn’t about all that Ayn Rand bullshit. The book (I still haven’t read it) is apparently filled with pain. Which, as we’ve already talked about can be illuminating.
And there’s the point. This pursuit of salvation doesn’t have to come from sport. I’m not even sure it comes from sport in the first place. It comes from the honest assessment of where one is at, where one wants to be at, and how to get there. If that was automatically build into sport, we wouldn’t have sports stars fighting dogs, or forcing themselves on women, or running the most sophisticated doping program in sporting history. If the pain of sport was illuminating in and of itself then our sports “heroes” would be leading us to a higher, more evolved way of living.
I am fortunate to have several people in my life who have also taken the responsibility of improving themselves through honest assessment. The ones I’m closest to don’t get this from sport, they have their own methods which are just as valid. I have these people in my life because (in part) I have sought them out, some I have found by chance, other through circumstance.
One of these people knows what they need to do. They know that they’ve been avoiding it because they know its going to be hard. Acknowledging its going to be hard – that its going to hurt – and proceeding despite that is the foundation of physical training. Its also the foundation of more important things, like living an honest life. Which is something we should all aspire to.