Free Will

Today was yet another attempt to practice anti-socialization, anti-dopamine reward cycle, ongoing attempt to break out of a society affected behavioral prison. Downward mobility in action.

Either I had a nice 16 mile trail run in a forest which I get to write in my log; and which I sensibly stopped when it seemed like I was damaging my left achilles. Good girl.

Or I am a failure because it was a 50k race which I didn\’t finish. The volunteers were disappointed and I have no medal to hang on my wall. Bad girl.

I came home and showered and laid on the bed. I decided not to make up a story about whether I was in enough pain to justify quitting. I decided just to feel my brain struggle to make excuses so I wouldn\’t get in trouble. With who? The Mommy and Daddy who live in my head.

After a nap, I picked up my neurophilosophy book \”Brain Wise\” and began to read. I read that most of us don\’t really have control over the choices and behaviors we exhibit. In fact, it takes an incredible act of self will to quit a race. In the ultra marathon economy, people keep going despite severe pain. Quitting as I did today is completely against the rules. Quitting goes against the ultra marathon tribe. Quitting makes visible the illusion: pushing thru the pain is good.

I know this because, now, several hours later, I\’d say that there\’s nothing wrong with me a little NSAID won\’t fix. I\’ll be out there doing miles tomorrow. In my personal, non-dopamine reward economy, doing miles tomorrow takes priority over pleasing society today.

I\’ll hang my number (a white piece of tyvek with a 5 printed on it, nothing else) on the wall with the other medals and count it a neurophilosophical victory.

Fighting to have free will, I also made choices at work this week which didn\’t please Mommy or Daddy. One was I intentionally avoided kissing up to a high level manager. Another was I asked to start working a 9/80  schedule and take every other Friday off. My boss (Daddy) miraculously approved the request but did grumble some. See, most of our department works many hours every week but don\’t take the Friday off. Other departments, everyone is taking the Friday off, engineers and mid-level managers included. So I decided to join that group.

It is perhaps a change of life struggle, but I must go through it. I insist on being who I really am before I die.


1 Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    It is interesting how things get twisted by the tribes. Everyone assumes that an ultra marathoner would be \”stoic\” but in actual fact, a true stoic has more in common with Zen. That is, nothing is good or bad, just what people emotionally assign to a thing or an activity. So to a true stoic, 14 K or 140 K has the same 'value' and 'meaning': none. I would suggest that at the end of one's life, looking back and saying that one had accumulated 100,000 miles would really be the same as saying that they had accumulated $100,000. The value is in the moment and after. Did you enjoy those moments, get you closer to the universe or your true nature or were they empty miles to fill a journal or a blog so you can get external validation. So you ran your 50 K, got your medal, had your peers tell you what a wonderful accomplishment that was but then you were in pain for days or weeks or whatever. And those who encouraged you do have have to live with the consequences plus provide almost the same empty platitudes regardless. So congratulations on rejecting the illusion of purpose and meaning and embracing something truly of value.


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