It was five in the evening on the Friday of the Castlewood Eight Hour Adventure race, perhaps my favorite race of all, now just three days ago. Ken and I sat at the table in our new house, took out all our markers and map plotting supplies and got to work. Ken was calling out coordinates and clues as I plotted them and wrote on the map. Everything was absolutely normal. The focus and intensity was exactly the way it has been for decades. Seemingly not a day had passed since going through our routine a decade plus years ago in places such as New York and Chicago. I started to devise routes and strategies on how to most efficiently get the checkpoints while minimizing the likelihood for a missed turn. “Wait, these six checkpoints can be gotten in any order?” I asked. I am very methodical about making sure I understand what I have to do. I need to be clear on this…… wait,,, I don’t need to be clear about anything,,, I’m not doing the race.
It’s amazing how easily we fall back into our natural habits and desires. We often mentally go where we want to go. This, perhaps, is a difficult tendency when it comes to prejudices and politics.
My wife, Mary, was teaming up with Ken DeBeer, my original adventure race team mate from almost twenty years ago. They had known each other for many years prior, and just so happened to be on the same loosely knit bike racing team.
After the race started and the whole mas of people ran down Rock Hollow paved trail, I managed to mount my bike. Getting on my bike is now a pretty iffy endeavor. I have a healthy amount of trepidation as to its success, but with the help of the rack on the back of the van, I managed. I rolled down, stopped and leaned on various trees to watch my friends running here and there through beautiful and open woods. I was not sad. I felt like I was participating in the race. Again, we mentally go where we want to go. At one point though, I made the mistake of following people down the miniature tracks along the bottom of the cliff. I came to a point that I could not get through and fell. Not a big deal, just fell over. Only thing I hurt was a little pride. I desperately did not want to interfere with people’s race. “I’m OK” I exclaimed, but I could not get up. After a short while, I accepted the help of a passing team to lift me up, and sent them along with a “thanks, I’ve got it from here”. It took me a few minutes to make it to the nearest tree about fifteen feet away. I could not get on the bike. Finally I got the help of a couple later teams to get on the bike so that I could head back. This was a kick in the face and was not where my brain wanted to go. It’s a major shift in independence and control.
I am still a little perplexed as to whether it is a good thing to get in these tough spots and be forced to deal with it, or whether it is best to avoid these situations. My feeling is that while it is not helpful to get these kicks in the pants, it is the worthwhile price to pay to keep participating in the game of life to the fullest extent possible.