Thursday, August 2, 2012

Inspiration

I've noticed that many people want to hear more about my running. You may be surprised that such feats of endurance are possible, you may be curious about how they can be accomplished, you may find it inspiring, or you may find it entertaining. I used to enjoy stories about ultrarunning. They are fascinating and captivating to those of us who are unfamiliar with them, and in many ways they are a necessary part of our development.

The truth is that I have become somewhat tired of telling people about some of these things. I deal with pain and distress all the time; that is how you get good at it. Whether emotional, physical, or intillectual, I have always found pain in my life, and I don't really want to entertain people with it.

Over the years, I've had a few people ask me for inspiration. First off- I'll say very honestly and bluntly that I'm not the greatest runner alive. I am fairly ordinary as far as ultrarunners go. You needn't look to me for inspiration.

If I can inspire people to live better lives...that's an added bonus. I was once inspired by runners I knew. But the ultimate question to ask- if you're looking for inspiration- is: Why do you want to be inspired? Do you want to become better in some way, or do you want to be entertained? If it's entertainment you want, you will not get it from me. I'm willing to humbly share my experiences to a curious audience, but I will do my best not to parade around self-rightously, relating tales of pain and how I have fought and overcome it. I've seen athletes do this, and I've found it distasteful. Frankly, I have gotten hurt so deeply, so many times, and in so many ways in life by this point that to talk about any one of these experiences seems petty. As far as overcoming the pain? That is the only option I've ever really believed I had. To me, accepting defeat would be far more painful. True, I have failed from time to time. Sometimes terribly, sometimes many times. At other times, I have fought one battle successfully whilst failing at another. But I've always maintained a simple but effective philosophy of doing my best.

I don't think running is about health or physical activity. It is about life and becoming a better human being. That being said, I believe inspiration is more an internal matter than anything else. If you truly care about self-betterment, then you needn't look to me for inspiration so much as you should probably look within yourself. Be careful that you don't just want entertainment- that will ultimately give you nothing useful. Care about your goals, know what is possible, and attempt to do the seemingly impossible. Even if you fall short, you will learn about yourself in the process, which will set you up for your next endeavor.

In my experience, when pain reaches its maximum, it is blinding. In these moments of blindness, I am left with nothing other than myself. No pump-up music, no motivational speaker, no inspirational stories can carry me through the pain. All I am capable of seeing is what I want. This is where I am tested and where I grow. Success becomes a question of how pure my motives are. Running is a continual practice of self-refinement.

If you deeply want to prevail, that is what you will see when you are blinded by pain, and you will probably overcome your obstacles. If you want comfort, entertainment, attention, or endorphins, you will probably start pitying yourself for not having these things, and you will defeat yourself. In a very abstract sense, you must let yourself die if you want to succeed.

I don't recommend that you to seek out pain. That is called masochism, and it's unhealthy. I believe that life can be fun, pleasant, and peaceful. However, these things require a healthy balance. I deviate from that balance, but only in the pursuit of becoming a better person. This way of living has its price, as do all ways. Personally, it has been many years since I've experienced real peace or happiness. It should be known that the extremes I go to in my life are suitable for me and how I choose to live, but they are not right for everyone. I truly believe that I am not inspirational and that each person needs to find their own source of inspiration if they want to succeed.

1 comment:

  1. Great article, Ben - thank you for doing what you do and believing in what you're doing. Good luck!

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