Friday, June 5, 2015

Chapter Anew

Do you ever have those moments where you feel like you’re right where you’re supposed to be?  Like the footsteps of your life path sync up with the universe and everything is one?  The perfect song comes on as a confirmation--you were meant to be here now.  These moments don’t come often and the effect is long lasting.  

Several years ago, running a ridgeline east of the Cascade crest, I had one of these moments.  My world had been spinning.  I’d returned from working in refugee camps on the Thai/Burma border and cycling touring solo across the southern tier of Asia.  Tossed up in my own culture shock I wa
s very much alone and lonely, but desperately wanted to be a part of society.  Wanting to be part of something bigger than myself was a new and uncomfortable feeling--often a sign of growth.  I went to the mountains to make sense of my strengths and come to peace with my weaknesses.

In junior high school a friend and his family invited me to stay up at the local ski resort in their motor home.  One night, after the ski lifts had stopped, we decided to hike up the steepest run we could find.  The three of us were competitive soccer players and in good form.  I remember starting up the pitch.  We would go up hill ten or fifteen feet then slide down laughing on our bellies. At some point I turned and faced the hill, front pointing and kicking steps in the most direct line toward the summit.  Something took over.  Cold fresh mountain air deep into my lungs, moonlight, rhythm, and the simplicity of my fast beating heart.  My mind had emptied--right foot, left foot, deep breathe out, and repeat.  When I reached the saddle I turned to realize something extraordinary, I had out climbed my friends by 20+ minutes by simplifying my thoughts and focusing my effort.

It’s taken a good long while to have the confidence to own up to the fact that, with the right attitude and stubbornness, anything is possible.  Several years ago and with the help of my biggest mentor and role model, my dad, we came to the conclusion that being a physical therapist dovetails almost every aspect of my life.  

As I drove up Owen’s Valley toward Mammoth today, where I will work and train for the summer, I had another one of those moments.  I was listening to Ironman World Champion Chris McCormack’s I’m Here to Win book on tape.  Jagged Eastern Sierra ridgelines on my left and broad white mountain peaks off to the right, Chris’s voice and message struck a chord so strong I had to pull over--”We create our own boundaries.  We need to know what they are in order to tear them down.”  Life is hard and dynamic.  In this moment, thank you for rejection letters, failed exams, and crappy sleep--these moments have enabled me to hit the ground running as the best physical therapist and professional endurance athlete I can be.  More importantly, thank you to my mentors, those alive and past, who’ve shown the way by choosing to live deliberately and on their own terms.  Never sacrifice.  Go after what’s yours without any inhibition.  Do work.

Time to hit the ground running in Mammoth.

Your pal,

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