Monday 7 March 2016

In search of a lighthouse

In search of a Lighthouse.

Over the last 72 hours. I've had my testicles ( I prefer the word: balls ) pulled, yanked and squeezed in more ways and by more people than my wife  managed in the preceding 20 years.

I was, while they were being yanked, pulled & pushed, asked to lie down and cough and sometimes to stand and cough !

All this was quite traumatic because at the end of all the yanking and coughing, I was told that "I had a protrusion of abdominal-cavity contents through the inguinal canal!"

Which when translated, meant that I had "inguinal hernia."

I was told that there was only one way to sort this out and that was to undergo "surgery".  

Surgery !!!  Surgery which would require 4 to 8 weeks (depending on the surgeon I spoke to ) of recovery time.

When I assimilated this, I realised that I was in an existential crisis !  

I started training for the 89km Comrades ultra marathon (which takes place at the end of May in South Africa ) in all earnestness, on the 1st of February 2016 and now on the night of 29th February 2016, I was coming to the understanding that Comrades training was possibly coming to an end.

If I don't train in March and April and May, to the extent and intensity necessary, I don't think that I can ever finish Comrades.

As I lay in bed last night I was completely devastated.  I felt like the floor below my feet had caved in and I was in a free fall with no safety line.

For the last 7 years, Comrades had been a central unifying idea in my life.    Every day when I woke up in the morning , I knew what I was doing.  

I knew which way to point my ship.
I knew which shore I was aspiring to reach.

The 89 km Comrades ultra marathon has come to define my life.  I am a runner yes, but I am, more specifically, a Comrades runner.

When I ask myself the existential question, " Who am I ?" The answer has always been "I am a Comrades runner"

In my personal opinion , I cannot be defined by my work.   I cannot be defined by education.  I cannot be defined by my relationships. I cannot be defined by the things I own.  In my personal opinion, none of these are intrinsically mine.

For many years now, whenever I closed my eyes and sat in silence and asked myself, "Who am I ?"  The answer has always been, "I am a Comrades runner"

I liked this answer.   I didn't want the other possible answers.  I didn't debate the other possible answers.  I didn't care if this wasn't the correct answer.   This was an answer which I owned.  

I have an overwhelming abundance of blessings but I choose to define myself as a Comrades runner.

As I lay in bed last night. I realised that Comrades will leave me one day.  It will no longer be possible.   I will no longer be on that road between Durban and PMB. It will be beyond my physical ability.

It dawned on me that one day soon, I will no longer be a Comrades runner.   Yes, I will be a once-upon-a-time Comrades runner, but that is only a consolation.   It is not the same.

People will always advice that health is what matters and these other things are irrelevant.  That can and always will be an opinion.
But for me, to be alive and to not be on that road on that particular day wearing my bib # 21548 is not something I had envisioned.   I had not applied my mind to that possibility.

But last night it dawned upon me that as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, that such a day will come, sooner rather than later.

I felt a sickening emotion in my heart.  I felt lost.  It was as if my life had been wasted because I didn't have an identity.

I don't know who I would be if I am not a comrades runner.

I lay in bed and felt that all my physical strength was gone.  I felt all alone.  I looked inside myself and searched for an answer, "who am I ?"
There wasn't any answer forthcoming.

Over the coming days and weeks and months, I need to sort this out.   I need to find an answer.  I need to find my bearings.   The existential crisis isn't not running Comrades.  The crisis is not knowing who one really Is.

Osho says that if you keep asking the question, who am I, over and over again.  If you meditate upon that question long enough, one day the very question will drop. You will reach a silence and at that point you will reach peace and enlightenment.  

I am very far from that point.   I am, at this point down and dirty and entangled in the passions and pleasures of life very far from the lofty heights of spiritual enlightenment.  

Of course, Osho also says that you can find enlightenment while being completely engrossed in the marketplace of life.
But I'm in no position for that either.

For now, I just want to run Comrades and at the same time begin the process of figuring out a future without Comrades.

For now, I am lost and need a shore to steer myself towards.  

I'm in search of a lighthouse.

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