There is an abundance of time to ponder one’s existence while on the Iditarod Trail. And ponder I did...a lot. And cussed...a lot
Tussocks. Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting one?
Sorry, that is a trick question, because if you have met one I STRONGLY doubt that it would fall into the pleasant category...
They had shown themselves in very limited quantity the night prior in the last hour before arriving at the shelter cabin while I was stuck pushing my bike rather than riding it. Due to the limited quantity of the tussocks the impression was not a lasting one. This is not to say they went unnoticed. It was more a “Damn...I’m glad there wasn’t 14 miles worth of those...those things SUCK! Fare thee well” encounter. I can only imagine their joy knowing what I did not.
9 hours it would take.
One day later the mother of all tussock fields guarded the ghost town of Iditarod, to the extent that one would have thought gold...massive amounts of gold must still be there, and whoever knew it had devised this nearly impenetrable defense. As I drew closer, its teeth shown more and more, and eventually pulling my left boot clear off as I attempted to gain another two feet on my Iditarod onslaught. A good laugh followed wondering what if any clothes would remain if I ever managed to escape this grass clumped mine field.
9 hours. 14 miles. That was how long the battle waged. The last 1/4 mile taking nearly a half hour.
It was during this 14 hour stretch, with 600 miles of trail still ahead that a promise was made after the following epiphany:
I put in between 15-30 hours of training every week on the physical side of what I do, to prepare myself for all these endurance/adventure cycling events.
In my early twenties what little was left of me physically and spiritually walked out of jail after a 7 day stay. 2 Drunk driving incidents (and who knows how damn many others there should have been) had landed me there. Hanging on by a thread, I made the decision to eliminate alcohol from my life. That was it. No other goal. No thoughts about getting back to this or that. There was no this or that. None that I could remember.
A week turned into two, which turned into 4, which turned into a couple months, and slowly the clouds began to dissipate. An eclipsed soul began to show light. And with that light a seed so very long choked out by the weeds of darkness, poked through. Stretching, yearning to feel the light it had feared would never return.
Take heed. No matter who or where you are, if you are lost or nearly void of hope, that seed never dies. It can bloom again. It will bloom again. I am living proof.
As I type away on this iPhone’s keypad, returning from a yoga retreat and 3 1/2 days of spiritual and physical bending; I’m reminded of that 14 mile stretch this past winter attempting to cover the 1000 mile Iditarod trail.
A promise was made that day. The promise was this:
Once the trail was completed I’d dedicate myself to balance. “I”...the non physical “I” was not starving but it was not getting the attention it deserved.
I wondered that day. I continue wondering now but it is an active pursuit, “Who, what am I? Who, what can I become?”
When the lights go out, will they say ‘that guy did some cool shit’? Well, I sure hope they don’t lead with that.
How much time do we spend just on ourselves? Our own development? Job, kids, spouse, dogs, cats, laundry, dishes, workouts? None of them need be eliminated.
BUT...Where does “I” fit in this list?
I know the answer for me. Somewhere beneath the weeds I have always known.
I’d challenge you to think the same as you navigate your own field of Tussocks, and once your answer comes make the appropriate promise and then...
KEEP THAT PROMISE.