Monday, August 15, 2011
Everyone Has an Everest
Jason and I, being the nerds that we are, periodically watch documentaries on Netflix. Now, when the program makes suggestions of things based on what we've watched before, it includes all kinds of documentaries on all kinds of subjects (further proof that we are total nerds).
One topic we often return to is that of Mt. Everest and all who have climbed or attempted to climb it. From the first people to get to the top, to those who have died in the attempt, to those who are in the process of attempting it, we have seen it all. And it is fascinating and amazing.... and horrifying and why would anyone want to do that? Watching it, I am moved by the motivation and drive of climbers who push their bodies to the brink of death simply to spend a few moments at "the top of the world." But I'm always thinking in the back of my mind, "Why would anyone want to do that?"
And then I remember my 50 mile adventure. While some people thought it was cool, some people thought it was downright crazy. Stupid, even. And they shook their heads and asked themselves, "Why would anyone want to do that?" I think of Jason's Ironman training. I watch his dedication and the long hours spent running, cycling and swimming and I wonder how he does it. I know he loves it, but why? I have done a few Olympic distance triathlons, and I have run many marathons without the 2 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride beforehand, and both of these are challenging to me. I can't imagine doing all that is required to train for and complete an Ironman. Why would anyone want to do that?
So I come to the conclusion that everyone has their Everest. It may be to run a marathon, complete the Ironman, climb a mountain, jump out of a plane, get a Ph.D, walk the Great Wall, adopt a child from a foreign country, pass the bar exam, overcome an illness, write a book... we've all got something. The why is still somewhat elusive, but I think a lot of it boils down to triumph. Adventure. Pushing ourselves a little harder to see if we can transcend the normal limits of our humanity. Maybe that is why I feel that running brings me closer to God. He gave me this body (another gift) and for now it is strong and healthy and able...and willing to run. And run. And run.
When I improve upon my marathon, when I complete an ultra, when I successfully finish a triathlon, I feel like I've conquered something. My own humanity? Maybe so. My own limitations? Possibly. Being a human means I'm going to mess up every day. I'm going to be impatient, selfish, hateful, greedy, lustful, and I might tell a white lie or two when it suits my purposes. And every day I wake up and try not to do all of those things...only to mess up again. So maybe the reasons I run are to find a way to transcend, to get away from my humanity if only for a few peaceful moments each morning.
This is all conjecture, of course. Everyone has different things they are chasing, different histories they seek to rewrite, different stories to tell. But I do think we all have our Everest. What's yours?