A few weeks ago, after a brief rant on this blog and again on the podcast concerning my medical issues and my fear of a DNF or a DNS in Chattanooga, I received a message from my friend and inner voice Tara Newman. Within everything she said to me there was one question that has stuck in my head ever since.
“Why Ironman, John?”
I was not able to answer the question. If she could have seen my face when I read it she would have seen a wide-eyed, panic stricken expression. I didn’t have an answer, and I knew that “because” was not going to be acceptable. The question has stuck with me ever since.
I could answer the easy way, saying “it’s a challenge”, or because “it’s there” … but none of those are true. As many people here know, I wear my heart on my sleeve. Not much that enters my brain stays there. I have low tolerance for fake people, fake feelings, fake anything, and my bullshit acceptance is about a .15. My sister refers to it as Mental Bulimia. I say whatever I think, regardless of who I might offend, because I don’t consider that. It’s the Sheldon Cooper Syndrome. If you watch the Big Bang Theory you know who Sheldon Cooper is (or Shelley if you’re his MeeMaw). He is extremely intelligent, but lacks a filter when it comes to saying what he thinks. People forgive him this because they know he means nothing by it personally. I am not quite as bad as Sheldon, because I don’t go out of my way to offend or to upset people. This doesn’t happen much in real life I am finding out.
I am an analyst. I am a numbers guy. I am a Virgo (if you put stock in such things). I see things in black and white. I don’t see gray areas in the majority of things. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. So when I see something that I feel is wrong, or misguided, or disingenuous, I feel an inner urge to point it out. I abhor sacred cows, or people who have never gotten out of the high school mentality of being one of the “cool kids” so they never disagree with anything that other “cool kids” say. Where some reading these posts, or missives, miss my point is that it is never personal with me unless I specifically use a name, which I have done a number of times when I felt it was warranted. This happens when I comment on food a lot because I will see something and use it as an example, but most fail to disconnect from the fact that I am not meaning it as an attack on them personally. Oh well … that’s their issue … not mine.
But I always feel that people who always see the gray areas ride the fence too much. Why is it wrong for me to take a stand on one side or the other? I always look at both sides when an issue comes up and I decided which side I am on … is this a weakness, or as someone pointed out “a hard way to live life”? I think it’s the opposite. I think it’s harder to live life always worrying about what others think of something I personally believe in. I have been accused of being a fence rider because I am registered as an Independent, but the way I see it is this … I don’t want to be held to a specific party agenda when it comes to issues. I look at both sides and I decide regardless of party who will get my vote, and when I make a decision I stand by it.
The problem with that is I constantly get phone calls from both parties during election years … which make me wonder how they know I voted for a specific party since it is supposed to be anonymous … but I digress.
So when it comes to an Ironman race and putting myself through the training and pain for the privilege of 140.6 miles of grueling effort … I guess it is because it is a decision … no gray area.
“You want to be a triathlete John? Do the Ironman”. I’ve done all the other distances multiple times so it was the natural progression.
“You’ve run a marathon John? Great … now run an ultra!” Badwater: Cape Fear in March 2015.
“That’s done? What’s next?? How about the Ride Across Iowa?” The RAGBRAI XLIII in July 2015. That’s the ticket!
I still don’t know how to answer Tara’s question. Is it as simple as “I don’t do the gray areas”? Either I am IN or I am OUT? I am still not sure. Is it as I spoke about on the show that I have had so much failure in my life that I need to be successful at something … anything … before my time is up?
Probably more to that than even I care to admit