Who am I? It’s a bit of a loaded question, isn’t it. Maybe it’s easier to ask who I’m not? I’m not a pensioner, I’m not a terrorist, I’m not a smoker, I’m not 19 years old. These answers aren’t too challenging to elicit. Pursuing the same line of thought, I am a female, an Australian citizen, a brunette, 168 cm tall (weight shall remain undisclosed, naturally), a resident of the northern suburbs…I am a lot. But what I am and what I am not don’t really answer the initial question, WHO am I? WHO are YOU?
‘She’s got guts’, ‘butterflies in the stomach’, ‘gutsy move’, ‘how gutless’ -a myriad of terms in our common vernacular that represent feelings, sensations and even personal characteristics. Take a look at the terms and recognise the common theme – the gut. Yes, that body part common to us all, quintessential for survival and ultimately, the nutrition extractor and thus energy provider fueling our existence. Clearly the gut is kind of a big deal, and I suggest that it’s health is more sweeping than merely determining whether we suffer from diarrhea or constipation.
Sometimes, unchecked thoughts can lead us to quite destructive mental avenues. We pollute our minds with self deprecating assessments, analyses that put us into a negative light, a poor self concept. Today was one of those days for me. The sun was out, a cool breeze tickled my skin, the world allowed me to flow unhindered. My morning training was accomplished, my commute to the city to sign for my new investment unencumbered, my belly finally recovered after a week of post gastro troubles. Yet for some reason, the sensation of contentment, the deep down, soulful satisfaction, was just not there.
I don’t think it’s farfetched to suggest that we are a somewhat luxury inclined society. Flick on the TV screen, scroll your Facebook, if you’re old school, read the paper. Most of the adverts, friend’s posts, deals seem to propagate a notion of total relaxation, lazing about, chilling, doing nothing.
Holiday destination ads depict couples splayed out sunbaking on the beach, Netflix and takeaway seem to be the standard after work engagement. Sure, there are the occasional commercials advocating family bike rides, physical activity and the like, but the majority of what is in the limelight is a movement towards….well… moving less.
I’ve been sick for the last few weeks. Now, it hasn’t been some debilitating, deathly ailment that has left me functionally inept or incapable. Rather, the attack was more lingering in nature, most ruthless during my hours of sleep. A deep cough, lung hacking, nose running a stream of gunk, sore throat, you know, general grossness. This hasn’t made training any easier or work any more enjoyable. But, being a bit of a stubborn girl, I pursued both activities with the hope of quickly shaking the demons attacking my body.
I have been contemplating purchasing another investment property for the last week. I must say that the idea has been deeply seated in the back of my mind for some time; it was a hypothetical intention, but one that I permitted to lie dormant on account of having delayed renovations progressing on my current apartment.
The renos are finally (almost) complete which means I can not only reintroduce tenants, but actually stop the flow of tears streaming down my face as I watch my dwindling bank account empty – phew.
Are they two sides of the same coin? Is being stubborn the same characteristic as persevering? If so, why is there a negative connotation associated with the former?
I have been called both, stubborn when scrutinised, perseverant when celebrated. “Why can’t you skip tonight’s training session, stop being so stubborn”, “Just take ones bite of the donut, it won’t kill you, you stubborn b**ch”.
In contrast, I’ve also heard my fair share of “Wow, how do you persevere through the pain, to run 100 km”, “You must be so dedicated to train so much and persevere through the boredom of so many hours of workout” etc.
So which is it, stubbornness or perseverance, a dedicated pursuit towards something grander or a selfish, close minded activity that needs to have more ‘flexibility’ attached to it?
I religiously attend a 24 hour gym, morning and night, where I sweat to my hearts content. In conjunction with my workplace, I spend 90% of my waking hours at these two locations, home is but a place to eat, prepare for the next day, and sleep.
The gym is a public place and as such, there must be a certain degree of etiquette; social rules that should be adhered to. For example, whilst I can walk around my home in my birthday suit, ie. naked, somehow I don’t think I would garner much support doing so at the gym; I won’t test it out. Similarly, I can sing to my heart’s content, pick my nasal passage, play my music at any volume and go to the bathroom without closing the door in the sanctuary that is home. I wouldn’t entertain the idea of embracing this level of freedom at the gym.
‘Belief will help create the fact’ – a slightly bastardised version of William James’ quote in “Is Life Worth Living?” The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy (1897), that pinpoints the psychological tactic I used to survive my most recent ultramarathon.
100 km of running through mountaineous trails might not be everyone’s cup of tea – but I’m a chai latte addict. There is something sacrosanct, therapeutic and intrinsically raw about sacrificing oneself to the powers of nature and commencing a journey of 100 km, wearing only one’s clothes and carrying a backpack of supplies. One must respect the distance, acknowledge it, yet not become overwhelmed by the toll the endeavour will take. It ultimately comes down to putting one foot in front of the other, and repeating this sequence very many times. One has to accept, from the outset, that the process will be treacherous, challenging and issues will arise; pain is inevitable. Yet, to finish an ultramarathon, there must also be an accompanying degree of faith, a belief that the end WILL appear and that amidst the trials and tribulations, one will cross the finish line.