It used to matter so much what other people thought of my fitness. Friends were competitors. Strangers had to be convinced I was somehow better than them for being in great running shape. Later it even mattered how fast I rode my bike on a particular day. Seeking to prove myself as a cyclist, it was not uncommon to brag about MPH on a group ride, or how fast a solo ride went.
People would politely nod if they knew me. The need for acceptance is so transparent. It’s the same as if someone is asking you for money. You can feel the whole conversation leading to the big question, “Can you lend me…”
Or when someone wants to get you to join their network marketing group. They talk and talk about the “business” they now own but can’t (or won’t) tell you a thing about it. Time to run away, I always say. Network marketing is evil.
Need for acceptance. Not.
All that need for acceptance is fading away now. It’s quite liberating in some ways but also disconcerting to be free of all the emotional anchors and chains you are used to wearing, and fighting against as a matter of habit.
It’s like one of those dreams where you know you can fly or run really fast if you can only get your feet out of the heavy shoes you’re wearing. When you finally start to wriggle free and feel the freedom rising within, you wake up. Sometimes we’re better off in our dreams.
Heavy shoes to fill
So it’s not like the past is completely gone. My feet are still in the heavy shoes of old habits. Tracking every ride and run on an iPhone, for example, is heavy shoe stuff. So is worrying if you’re going to keep up with the March group rides when all those obsessive types who’ve been pedaling away their bikes in stuffy basements emerge in spring to show off their pasty white and super-fit muscle packs. They ride away into the wind and you can only sigh.
And those runners without so many miles on their bodies. I admire their 20 milers and such, but I’ve been there. Done that. If I’m happy with 5 at 8:00 pace, why should that bother me or anyone else. Like Marty Liquori once said in his book about competitive distance running, “Train hard while you’re young so that you don’t have to prove yourself at the family picnic.” Here, here, Marty. Good advice. I’m wearing it well. I still get out and cover ground fast once in a while, and go long. Good enough for me. 6’1″. 170. Fit enough to get fit, I guess.
Instead, now I’ll take what I can get from training. The winter here in Illinois allowed quite a few winter rides, especially on the mountain bike. So while I’m not exactly fit like those basement trainer people, and I know the first few longer group rides will hurt like hell, so be it.
So be it. Say it. So be it.
Sticks in your brain, don’t it? So be it.
Repeat after me: So be it.
Why So Be It Works
This is what I’m saying to myself now. “I’m going to go out and do my best and train hard and hurt when I can. But if something comes along that prevents me from going crazy in my running or riding, so be it. I’m not going to torture myself over my fitness to prove myself to anyone else, or even to myself. In fact I think Nike should change their tagline under the Swoosh to So Be It rather than Just Do It.
So Be It is just as open ended as Just Do It, but with a tinge of forgiveness. It could be the mantra for the Christian athlete, or perhaps the Buddhist in training.
The lesson of the crystal goblet
When you imagine the shining crystal goblet as already broken, there is no reason to covet it. You can then carry it around in a rough satchel without worry if you like, and use it to drink bitter ale without insult, should you choose. A crystal goblet is both a wonder and nothing to behold.
That crystal goblet is you.
So be it.