On suffering...

Why does comfort breed distance?

Men and women all over the world toil away neatly in their climate controlled offices. Slowly and surely, like the awards on the wall, they become plated, year by year, by an insular coating of chrome and dust. Is there ever a moment where they realize that the light within has been trapped? And even worse, that it reflects away the lights of others?

 We “polished professionals…” has the combination our analytical approaches to business problems, combined with modern comforts of quiet cars, humming air conditioning, and the gauze of TV, Advil and carpeting – has this insulated us from the human features, strengths and flaws of others? Have these comforts so reduced our highs and lows, our smile and frown lines, such that we can no longer read each other?

 Designed by God and nature, the human body is capable of physically working at relatively high intensity without food or water for long periods, with the notable and needed side effects of hunger, thirst and suffering providing reminders of what the body needs in order to continue producing. Has it now become so muffled by the platinum sweater of decent living that its capabilities for “really living” are compromised?

 But suffering – nominally this awful thing to be avoided – it more than anything else strips away the plating – like an acid wash it removes this layer of chrome and dust and allows, for a brief moment, a glimpse back at our humanity, that human grip of flesh upon flesh – all the warm sweat of it.

 It is always amazing to me – the dirt of a race. Every exposed wrinkle becomes black with dust – upon inspection the suffering of the road becomes a fine tracery of black veins delineating the fold of the inner elbow, the creases of thumbs, eggshell folds of the ears and underlids and the worry lines of the forehead. Like a patina added to the contours of our modern life, humanity again becomes obvious and for those brief post race moments we ignore the normal formalities that add distance between us and use the memories of our common suffering to cleave to one another.

Here's to "really living,"


(snippet from 2007 race report #11 - the post race vibe)