My wife turned to me this morning and said, “The new Muslim Congresswoman is being sworn in with a Quran.”
Makes total sense of course. We all want to abide in our respective faith traditions.
Yet we also know that the presence of the Quran in an official swearing-in ceremony probably makes some politicians crazy with religious fervor knowing someone isn’t vowing loyalty using the book of their god. But you know, three of the most common faiths in this world actually share quite a bit of history, at least in terms of the archetypal characters they admire, such as Abraham and Moses.
This means we all need to consider the commonalities between our respective belief systems rather than using selected passages from one scripture over another to declare absolute providence.
But what if, in order to compete in triathlon, you had to actually be sworn in to get your USAT license? You could certainly choose a Bible or a Quran to do the deed.
But you could also be a lot more creative. So here’s a few suggestions and reasons why these books might work quite well as texts on which to swear your fidelity to the sport and the cause:
- No Exit, by Jean Paul Sartre. This novel addresses themes of existentialism. The plot centers around a room with three people inside, and for all of eternity, in alternative fashion, two of the people in the room do not get along with the third. This often holds true for the three disciplines included in our sport as well. Why can’t they all just get along? No Exit maintains: Hell is other people. Triathlon maintains: Hell is at least one of the three sports.
- On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. This classic Beat Generation book chronicles the travels and travails of a road wanderer searching for meaning in life, but also some fun. That sounds enough like triathlon, does it not?
- The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda. For those who like a little transcendental mysticism in their pursuits, the entire series of books by Castaneda challenges every perception of reality you’ve ever had. Reading the books in order dissolves what you consider “normal” about life and makes you wonder if you can actually fly…If you put your mind to it. Perfect for those who want to live outside the pain and reach another level of performance.
- The Peregrine, by J.A. Baker. This book is written in a first-person narrative in which a solo naturalist follows and studies the lives of peregrine falcons on the far reaches of England’s loneliest coastlines. The descriptions of raptors taking their prey in thrilling stoops will make your heart pound. Yet there are quiet moments of consideration as the peregrine dines on its feathered meals. Perfect reading while lying on the couch in recovery.
- The Curse of Lono, by Hunter S. Thompson. This book came out during the height of the big running boom in the early 1980s. Thompson was sent by Rolling Stone magazine to cover the Honolulu Marathon. He discovered a culture more obsessive and manic than the worlds of drug users, Hell’s Angels and politics he covered in his Gonzo Journalism personas. No matter how crazed you think you are about your sport, this book will make you feel positively normal. We all need that from time to time.
And there you have it. A Starter’s Guide for books on which to place your hand and make your oath to succeed in the sport of triathlon.
You’ll notice there aren’t actually any books about triathletes, or triathlons, in this mix. That’s because I don’t believe in literalism for inspiration. Those gripping life stories about triathletes who went from being low-paid dishwashers to winning Kona may seem inspirational, but they’re actually depressing. Who wants to compare themselves with that?
Thus it’s far better to disassociate through crazed books of fiction than associate and grow weary reading non-fiction accounts of people so much better than you are. Because if you’re going to swear you existence to anything, don’t let it be someone else’s life. They’re way more weird and obsessive than you could ever imagine.