Alertness

An immovable object meets a irresistible force and a big bang occurs. Inertia meets excitement, pessimism runs into optimism and neither remains the same. Change occurs even when , or especially when, we aren’t expecting it. I can be convinced, packed, loaded and heading down a certain path and find that the trail ends abruptly. I can detour around the fifteen foot wall, I can try knock it over, I can try climb over it or I can backtrack and try a different path or backtrack and give up. The only unacceptable option for me is to retreat and give up. As long as I am moving, I am making progress. When I drive, I am opportunistic and often make turns at lights or in congestion so I don’t reduce my momentum. When I am working on a project and hit a snag, I admit to feeling frustration seep in and my ambition seep out. If I am alert, I remind myself that the frustration is an opportunity to learn and that my motivation shouldn’t be hinged to progress but instead to effort. Easy to say, harder to do.
The road forward shouldn’t be a safe straight trajectory. I learn much more when I am disrupted and challenged by unexpected barriers and mysterious options. As a impatient imperfectionist with a serious destination bias, I struggle appreciating the journey. But all that I really have is the next stretch of trail before a turn or dip appears and focusing on a finish line that is out of sight reduces enjoyment, possibilities and growth. A finish line mentality also makes me single-minded and blind to other ways and it seems causes an increase in effort as I miss obvious and hidden signals and shortcuts.
In a race following someone who is slightly faster or more fit can lead to improved times and maybe a personal best but getting caught up in beating other runners creates the wrong focus. I am running on an unknown course this weekend and am reminding myself to be alert for hazards, pay attention to markers, enjoy the snot bubbling elevation changes and enjoy challenging myself in relation to the results I have accomplished in previous runs. It may not be perfect (for sure), it may not be pretty (likely) but it will be positive regardless of how or where I finish ( I recognize that there is a part of me that sees another first place as some other kind of validation and need to keep that ambition tempered.)

If I need a reminder this weekend of the immovable object and irresistible force, there is a great likelihood that we will encounter bears on the route. This past week black bears and grizzlies have been seen enjoying the sunshine in the open meadows and trudging up some of the logging roads. Knowing that there is something dangerous around the next corner or the next will be a strong prompt to stay in the moment and learn something from each step.

My training over the past couple of weeks has focused on proper for and good equipment. Even when I am experimenting with new shoes or an new idea, I need to think about the process and if my posture and carriage is getting the maximum results from all the effort. The difference between success and less than success can come down to a blister or a blistering start. It can be challenged by a desperate need or bias and the idea doesn’t gain roots because it was seeded haphazardly.

Like most of my work and my recreation having a strategic plan can be useless. Knowing my strategic position; some future preferred state and staying pointed in that general direction can allow the race or practice to be interesting, efficient and still leave room for leaps over logs and leaps of logic. In ideation and trail running, iteration is generative. One step builds on the next and attaches itself to the delta of previous changes. One step becomes 1000 becomes 10K and word becomes a phrase becomes a sentence becomes an idea that synthesises to another idea and creates something that has the same grit and dirt of both but smells and feels oddly different than might have been expected.
As I head out early tomorrow morning with some excitement and apprehension I will be reminding myself to be alert for changes, be ready with resources (bear spray and nutrition) and be ready for a lot of unexpected challenges and unexpected opportunities.

Make Today Remarkable by being alert,

B

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