Friday, July 27, 2012

It Ain't Easy

It was cold when we left Wyoming in the dark early hours. Without windchill, the temperature was just above freezing. At speed, it was well below. At that temperature, heated accessories keep you functional, not comfortable. Jim hunkered down behind the short sport windscreen to avoid at least some of the wind, and I tucked in behind him as closely as I could. We had over 1000 miles to travel across 4 states... and fewer than 24 hours in which to do it. We were racing the clock to complete an Iron Butt Association Saddle Sore 1000 motorcycle ride, and neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night* was going to keep us fools from the swift completion of this crazy stunt.  

We made it, with a few** hours to spare even. The following day, we were both dehydrated, exhausted, and useless... and ridiculously happy.

According to legend, when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, mountaineer George Mallory replied “Because it's there.”

I propose the following refinement to this oft-quoted justification for doing preposterous things: Because it sucks.

It's fun to participate in activities that you find “easy” and at which you excel. It can also be equally, if differently, rewarding to try your hand at something you find extremely challenging. Even making the attempt is a notable accomplishment. If you succeed, all the better.

Beginning today, July 27, athletes from all over the world will compete in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. They've been training for years in preparation for these few days. They cannot remember a time when their bodies did not ache, or a day when they did not push themselves to the limit of human endurance. They've taken no holidays, vacations, or days off. They've pursued competition over comfort, excellence over ease. They've battled for this chance to compete at the top and now they face their most daunting opponents – each other.

Some will win gold, others silver or bronze. Some will take home only bags of swag from the sponsors – along with a well-earned sense of pride for having undertaken this Olympic challenge. 

Today's lesson: In case you've been hiding under a rock for the past month, the Olympic Games begin today.***

Next: A Writer Prepares – a look into my writing process.

*We rode through all that and then some. Also, my husband has made runs like this several times now. He is, after all, Jim Strider, big bike rider.

**No, I won't tell you the exact finish time, as Highway Patrol officers are proficient in basic math skills and I'm not sure what the statute of limitations is in, say, Utah.

***Debate: Team USA's 60s flight attendant chinoiserie chic vs. Team Spain's Burger King look. Post snarky observations in the comments section below...

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