I find that people tend to fall either firmly in the camp of believing that the universe is at play in their lives or firmly outside of that camp. Me? I fall squarely in the camp of believing that the universe is at play, and I am unapologetic in this belief. I don’t believe it in a way that leads me to think that everything in my life is pre-determined by some all-knowing “universe”. I still believe in my own free will and choice, and that I alone am fully responsible for the actions that I take. I just believe that sometimes the universe will try to teach us lessons we need to learn, or provide us with the things that we need at the time that we need them.
What does this have to do with my ultra marathon? The short answer is that it has nothing specifically to do with my ultra marathon. The long answer is that, in some way, I do think the universe is trying to teach me moderation.
The concept of moderation is one that I’ve failed to successfully grasp my entire life. Here is just a short list of ways in which I demonstrate my inability to employ moderation:
–With food, I will either give up sugar and alcohol entirely and live a pure (and dreadfully boring) existence, or I will eat all of the things all of the time. There is no in-between.
–With exercise, I will either train for an ultra or a marathon or try to double my hiking distance from the previous year (a feat that would require hiking roughly 1600km!), or I will become a sloth (for me, this is sticking to half-assed gym workouts under the guise of staying active).
–With TV, I will binge watch entire series (not seasons, but series) then, with the utmost determination and snobbery, declare myself “over television”…until Netflix releases something else amazing.
–With books, I will burn through four novels in a week and then not pick up another book for a year
The evidence is clear. Me and moderation are not friends.
Last week, I was having drinks with some friends I haven’t seen in a long time and telling them about my parents upcoming move away from a mountain playground (i.e. whining about how they are taking away my rocky mountain vacation getaway). Prior to that, I had been discussing how my SI injury has kept me from running and hiking much so far this season. One of them looked at me and said “It sounds like the universe is trying to tell you to slow down and focus on other things.”
Now, initially I was like, “nah, that ain’t it”, but the more I thought about it, I wondered if perhaps the universe was trying to teach me a lesson…but not that lesson. Suddenly I could see that the universe was, in fact, very craftily teaching me a lesson in moderation:
Step 1: The universe deals me a pesky recurring injury and makes sure that it simply won’t go away, thus preventing me from getting obsessively hard-core about hiking and training.
Step 2: When I fight back with ambitious plans to correct my body through strength training and treatment, the universe is like “let’s just make this a little bit harder for you to have good trail access…let’s maybe take away your vacation home and make it harder for you to follow through with that crazy plan to hike extreme distances for eight consecutive days this summer.”
Step 3: So that it’s not just throwing crap at me, the universe also sprinkles in some really good things that result from my forced moderation. For instance, this weekend I had a four-day hiatus from any serious workouts so that I could attend my brother’s wedding in Niagara. If I had been training seriously, I would have been tremendously anxious about how I would fit in training runs and would have lamented the total absence of elevation gain in Ontario. Instead, I was able to enjoy myself, spend time with my family, indulge in the world’s largest ice cream cone and mid-afternoon beer flights. Most of that wouldn’t have happened had I been overly fixated on training progress, or at the very least I wouldn’t have enjoyed it.
By no means am I there yet with moderation. But I am starting to see the universe’s point of view. When I live a slightly more moderate life, I am still able to stay active, but also devote more time to friends and family. In other words, I am able to live a more multi-dimensional life where I am not all-hiking-all-the-time. And, sometimes but certainly not all the time, I can just calm the f&*k down and relax.
I’m on to you, universe, but I’m willing to hear you out for a bit longer on this moderation thing…