By Nick Hussey, 19 June 2012 | Comments (7)
Choose The Hard Life.
Life is easy. Most of us will never fight. Fight to eat, fight for antibiotics, fight wars, fight much at all. Except our urges.
Many of us live in a bizarrely contorted society where the fight is for better holidays, better toys, better furniture. Life is good. And yet we seem so miserable.
Sit on a morning Tube in London. Misery. Faceless, emotionless slow death. Sit in a call centre cubicle on a wet Wednesday afternoon, the clock thudding to 15:03 and thoughts of Eastenders.
I've done these things, and as I did my thoughts wandered to cycling. In forests, the rain on my face, flying between trees and feeling human. And it made me angry.
Humans are meant to fight. We were born to it. To struggle. To crawl in the dirt and thrash our way out of it. To hunt and to find. To feel the sting of metallic blood on our tongues as we run.
Thankfully no more. But our perceptions are lost. To fight is to change lanes on the dual carriageway as the traffic builds. To queue in the supermarket on Xmas Eve. This is luxury. There are people who would (and do) kill for these opportunities.
We've become soft. We've forgotten the struggle. The struggle is life. The struggle gives satisfaction. The struggle is noble and tough and its end is glorious.
So we have turned to cycling. Cycling replaces what we've lost. Suffering. Hardship. Dirt. Hunger. And essentially, choices to give up or continue.
To succeed in cycling (cycling here can be read as racing cycling, sportives, XC races, triathlons, track, endurance challenges....the hard stuff) self-discipline is essential. When starting out at cycling any distance or speed you are very quickly presented with the option to forgo difficulty. The aching in the legs, the hacking lungs, that steep hill in the wrong gear. And at first we give up. I know I did.
Then we see others go past us, rasping for air, grinding teeth, and their exultation. That look. How do I get some of that? By carrying on. By ignoring the signals. Do it anyway. Do it. Do it. DO IT.
So you learn that your limits are far beyond what you had known. You are far tougher than you knew. And that with hardship comes reward. Endorphins. Weight loss. Camaraderie. Fitness. But mostly pride and self-respect. You are not shopping for lampshades, you are finding new limits to your life.
Cycling taught me to try harder. That excuses don't count. That the more you put in the more you get out. To keep going, that your real breaking point is far far beyond what you had thought it was. And I've remembered some of it, and applied it to daily life. My life is happier, not just because I cycle, but because cycling has taught me lessons.
My favourite cliche: Nothing in life worth having comes easily.
There are few greater, more simply accessed highs than the feeling of overcoming your voices and doing it anyway.
Challenge Cycling (for want of a better phrase) makes society a better place. It makes healthy minds. We become more grateful. We look around us and see lives lived in monotone. We are living life with a touch of glory in the fight. The taste of hot food after 80 miles. The cresting of the summit. Flies flicking off glasses at 50mph. Soggy feet as you look down on the silver lake.
Don't give in to the easy life. The easy life is full of pain. The pain of never succeeding, never feeling the edges, never knowing yourself, never respecting yourself.
Most of the people on this planet have to fight to survive. Their lives are tough, sometimes even horrific. We, the preened and pandered First Worlders*, we owe it to them to stop filling our lives with perceived misery and stultifying boredom. We insult their struggle with indifference to our luxurious surroundings.
Find happiness. Fulfill your potential. Choose the hard route. Follow your dreams. Make it all worth it. Life is about pain and ecstasy.
Life isn't the low hollow comfortable thrum of death creeping closer.
*Not all of us have life quite so easy. There is of course still terrible suffering to be found all around us.
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