Editors note: Meet Stephen, he is the newest member on our team! Read his thoughts below on why we love this crazy sport that takes us to some amazing places both physically and mentally.. T minus one week before we start our journey to World Championships!
I think most of us would agree that these days life moves pretty quickly. There seems to be an infinite number of directions to go, and in order to keep up with the flow of life it feels as though we must constantly be making choices on where to focus our attention. If we stop for even a second to smell the roses or listen closely to that space between our breath, life will roar past leaving us tumbling and churning in a wake of hesitation and F.O.M.O (Fear of Missing Out).
At some point we are all thrown into the river of life and left to decide our own fate of whether we will sink or swim. Some feel at ease in the flow and will happily go wherever it takes them, while others desperately flail and thrash their way to shore eventually finding solace in being an observer. Both outcomes are fine, but I know that for myself when I am caught either waiting by the side or carelessly drifting without direction it isn’t because I chose to be there. Life, the stream, whatever you want to call it, can be an opportunity to travel well beyond the limits of anything we ever thought was possible and ultimately glimpse the vastness of an unending universe. It is this space, between where we feel comfortable and safe, and how far we are willing to explore into the unknown that I call perspective.
Perspective shows me when my relationships are honest and mutually serving. It shows me when my fears and doubts are rational or ridiculous, but most importantly perspective reveals the clearest path to my goals. If gaining perspective was only as simple as explaining how to do it on paper we would all live in a constant state of actualizing our dreams and tough choices would be sought after as exciting opportunities for growth and change. Unfortunately it’s not that easy. That awkward and uncomfortable place outside of our comfort zone can be scary, intimidating, and even dangerous, and how we behave while we are there becomes an ultimate expression of who we are.
If only there was some kind of training ground for life. A miniature version of the real thing, where we could practice taking risks and experiment with our intuition. Until recently I believed that such a place belonged only in my imagination, or some parallel world where Eckhart Tolle and Cormac McCarthy design Zombie Apocalypse Video Games…
My first Adventure Race struck me like a spiritual bitch-slap from life with an unforgettable sting that exclaimed “Hey, you know that thing you’ve been looking for? That thing that puts everything else in perspective and pushes you to be more and do more than you think you can? Well here it is.” And I liked it.
It turns out that something remarkable happens when you are pushed far enough past your limits that the only way to get yourself out is to keep going. If you are anything like me then you have experienced being caught up in the cycle of accumulating layers of emotional burden. A bruised ego, disappointment, pride, insecurity, taking things too personally, the layers add up and eventually become so thick that its hard to discern whether your personality is an expression of what you’ve done or what has been done to you. Adventure Racing strips away all of these layers, it forces me to not only be accountable to myself, but also to a team of other people who are relying on me. Yeah sure, biking or bushwhacking really far, like really far, uphill, sleep deprived, malnourished, wet and cold, can at times be a little heinous and frustrating – but try loosing your cool or making stupid mistakes in front of your friends.
Either way, wherever your demons are hiding, somewhere out there between the starting line and the finish, you will find them.
About two months ago Chelsey asked me if I would write about what it’s like to be the “New Guy” on Team Yogaslackers and how I am preparing for the World Championship in Brazil next month. My first thought was – I’ll just say something arrogant and cheesy like “I run sometimes and eat a lot of carbs.”
To be completely honest, I avoided writing this because it forced me to ask myself those uncomfortable questions. The real answer is that I’m pretty nervous. I have a lot of big unknowns being the New Guy. I am nervous about how my body will handle the race environment and the pressure of being competitive, and I am nervous about letting down my team or myself. When I start to really think about everything that could go wrong I get pretty overwhelmed.
But then I smile and remember – all that fear and doubt – its nothing a good Adventure Race won’t fix.
Originally posted at http://teamyogaslackers.com/2015/11/02/what-the-is-adventure-racing/.