Intangible goals are a bit like jumping on an in-ground trampoline with side covers: you can jump up and down all you like, but without enough air flow beneath you, you aren’t going to get much air. Or, similarly only differently, if you’re riding a mountain bike on loose pebbly gravel over hard pack dirt and you come around a corner and lose traction. You’ve got to have the right tools in your bag for whatever it is you’re trying to do.
Recently Justin and I finished tiling our condo, and we tried to find the right tools. It often meant last minute urgent trips to Lowe’s for supplies, but we got it done. It was new to us, neither of us having tiled 800 square feet before. But, we figured it out, slowly but surely.
We lived there for 9.5 years, half of which we were bike racers for and a small condo with no yard and not much maintenance or upkeep was delightfully perfect for. When you train 12+ hours a week, many hours of which are on the weekend, and you try to sleep 9 hours a night, you generally don’t have the energy or drive to then spend 3-4 hours a weekend working on a hard or general house upkeep.
Now that Justin and I have succumbed to being more normal people and less athletes (and we are struggling with that in and of itself, but out necessity of our jobs and living situation we are doing what we need to do thinking less of the next 6 months and more of the next 6 years), we want different things. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But, the journey is not the destination.
Unlike training, the journey we are on right now is not one within our control. We are not on a path, climbing a hill, descending, training for something, working toward a fitness goal. No, we’re on a train. We hopped on willingly, the problem being that the engineer, the driver, doesn’t care what our destination is. They don’t know us, they don’t have a displayed route. There’s just a train, on the tracks, and someone else is leading the way entirely. We’re just along for the ride. We may get somewhere, or we may just be riding around in circles. We can ask where we’re going, we can let them know where we want to wind up, but it’s all irrelevant. It’s out of our control. We’re on the train now and there’s nothing to do but wait, and hope, and it’s speeding down the tracks, shaking, shimmying, feeling out of control.
All we can do is wait for it to stop and hope we’re somewhere near our destination.
But, we’re in the middle of this dark and murky forest; the trees are deep and overwhelming, with little sunlight showing above or around us. It’s all new to us; we don’t know where we are or how to navigate. We can’t read the trail ahead; there’s no braking ruts or bumps or any information as to what we’re headed for. We just have to hope.
We can jump off at any point. It’s like Hotel California: we can check out at any time we like, but we can never leave.
I feel like the last four years we exerted a lot of control and dedication and commitment and change over our lives, and yet now here we are: powerless, out of control, not much information, and nothing we can do to change our situation.
It’s an interesting place to be in.
There are few people outside our family’s that have known us and “stuck with us” so to speak in the long run, and some of those that have don’t really know or understand.
Justin and I were just two very typical college students when we met. There was nothing special or athletic about us. He used to work out at the gym every day, lifting heavy, and I used to do nothing. I never did any sports or athletics in school. I struggled a bit with weight in high school and college.
We graduated in 2002 and took up r/c car racing. The competition never sat well with me, though I enjoyed taking pictures of the racing and we had some good friends and times as a result. In 2005 I was done with the politics of it, and we came out the other side, overweight and needing something else to sink our teeth into. Justin wanted to get bikes.
Tyler told me I’d hate it because it was hard work (fuel for the fire) and Jeff said that we never did anything less than 150%. Both were right, and wrong. Jeff knew and understood because he was similar, and maybe Tyler was upset to lose a somewhat big sister (though I honestly never trashcanned him). There were bonds formed and gone, and it still hurts at times when I think of it, and there is still the nostalgia. I don’t miss the r/c car racing; I miss the people. It’s always been that way.
We took up mountain biking in late 2005. We were slow, and overweight, and didn’t care. It took years to get good at anything. I looked in fear at Santiago Peak. I still somewhat do, though there were times when I didn’t, of course. I am afraid of all that mountain biking represents: what I used to be, what I could be, what is in between, what I have and don’t have… it’s endless. Endless. I can’t even explain or describe all that it represents and makes me feel and fear. But, that’s for another day and time.
I am here now. It is nowhere I ever wanted to be; it’s nowhere I ever thought I would be. But, I am here. In the middle of nowhere, without a compass, no landmarks in sight, nothing to look for, nothing to get out of bed for or fight for. Wandering, aimless, in the desert, in the forest, in the mountains, in the foothills… it doesn’t matter. I’m in quicksand trying to flop onto my back or my side or my stomach, trying so hard not to fight against the current, and losing the battle so badly that I am just drawn and sucked under with every movement, every breath… there is nothing but muck and sucking and mud.
It sounds bad. I know. I’m fortunate. I have a job. I have a great husband, and a great family, and good friends. We can pay our bills. We are fortunate. But, we don’t have what we want. We can’t control anything at this point. We are aimless, wandering… we’re in the great Sahara, a random sun above, not moving… there is no sense of direction, no sense of movement or progress. Sometimes there are oasis illusions, but those get dissipated soon enough.
A wise friend said today… it’s like you’re standing at a river; there are things coming down stream – take up everything that you need, turn around, and release everything that you don’t – all the fear and uncertainty… just let it go.
Maybe… who needs goals after all? Maybe all I need is just to keep breathing, with some far off idea of things, some sense that things may change at some point, but right now I just need to wake up at 5 am, go to work, do my job, go home, and do it all over again, as healthy and smart as possible… because, maybe sometimes there simply isn’t anything more than that.