Bryce Canyon Ultra – the morning after

I am sitting in a very nice Best Western, getting ready to drive to the airport and go home. No 50k medal, but a great vacation experience.

Yesterday I completed 19 miles of a mountain trail 50k race. The trail wound up the mountain through pine trees and mountain meadows going from 7,000 to 9,000 feet. At one place I got to stand at the bottom of a beautiful Hoo Doo type cliff, and then stand at the 9,000 foot top looking over a vast horizon.

The trail was difficult in spots being steep in places. Not a problem going up, but my mind snapped shut at the thought of going down. I have no quads because there are no natural hills where I live; and anyway, my knees are not perfect.

I spent most of my time in pine trees looking at the trail in order not to trip. There wasn\’t much time to see and enjoy as I was trying to meet cut off times for the race. While the race management was allowing people to keep going as long as they wanted, they were closing aid stations; which meant no water if you got there too late.

At 19 miles, I was a little past cut off and heading into the severe down hill part of the course. It would have taken me more than 4 hours to get down the mountain, with tricky steep downhill parts. I couldn\’t imagine doing it. So when they said that the extraction vehicle was there, I jumped in it. I was going to get a \”did not finish\” (DNF) no matter what I did, so might as well skip the pain.

I have to admit that the trail in the mountain was either too long or too difficult for me. I see that I have limits. I can do alot but not everything. Or if I plan on doing everything, it might take awhile.

Trail runs are a weird animal. You must look down and watch the tripping hazards or you are going down. Even a second of inattention can bring you down. This concentration and focus is meditative in the sense that you can\’t think of too much else. If you want to look around, you have to stop or find a piece of trail with no hazards. My life is like this. Most of it has been spent concentrating on the trail in my immediate view, not looking around to enjoy anything.

I wonder if I can fix that when I enter retirement? Both inner and outer vistas need to be enjoyed and pondered. Stop trying to achieve, or ward off the competition, or finish projects at work as I people please bosses. My life so far: Survive a dysfunctional family. Go to college and get an engineering degree. Get a job and then get another job and then another job and so on. Who am I in all of that?

Getting sober was meaningful. Getting spirituality was meaningful. Running was meaningful. But these are things hidden from my co-workers. So, while I\’ve spent humongous amounts of time at work, most of it was acting. I wasn\’t really me.

In a weird way, I am DNF-ing my career because I am resigning at the age of 59; with money but not a retirement as far as the company is concerned. No gold watches. The golden hand cuffs are being ripped off, not released. But I don\’t think I will DNF my life. I think I must quit my career in order to finish my life successfully.

Success for me is more about thinking than achieving, even though I have spent a good deal of my life beating other people.

You know, you can run laps around a small park for hours and look inward toward greater things. This is prayer. You can sit in your house meditating. This is prayer. You can wonder why you were at a trail race and what happened to you during it. This is prayer. I look at my career and admit my feelings about what happened. This is prayer.

During my 3 day vacation, I felt alot of appreciation for seeing Utah and hiking some incredible rocks.

See you again soon.

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Consciousness Is

I didn\’t get up when the alarm went off today. I thought my foot would be hurting and that I\’d not be doing miles (since I did 20 yesterday). But alas, the foot feels pretty good, so I\’ll head out shortly.

In the mean time, I lay in bed and wondered: what can I do to be more spiritual? See, I reached an impasse. The Course in Miracles says that Spirit does not know ego, but ego incessantly tries to achieve recognition.

I came down and started my study. I thought about the Marathon Monk, the ultra runners, the cloistered nuns, the Zazen practice, the traumatic brain injury. I conclude that these people achieve the belief in God because their ego let go.

If I stick with the ACIM definition that the ego is a belief system described as autonomy from God, then the people who achieve enlightenment through the above listed means have achieved the required letting go.

But my life is somehow not on one of those paths. My attempts to do those things have failed. I return to the reality that I am attempting to use consciousness to transcend consciousness. And that is when I realized: just let consciousness be.

That is the answer, don\’t attempt transcendence. Let it go.

My first inkling of God was on a hot day in Jerusalem where I watched Hassidic Jews in fur hats and coats praying at the Western Wall. I perceived that they had something I wanted. And so my ego swung into action and began its pursuit of God. In itself that is not a bad thing. Looking at it another way, I heard the call of God to return to Him.

In the moment, any given moment, I can return to God. But there is no associated achievement. And so I become confused. Americans are supposed to achieve. But God consciousness is not an achievement. It merely is.

So, I don\’t need to be a marathon monk, or a cloistered nun, or fast for 40 days, or live alone on a hill top, or get in a car wreck, or have cancer, or etc. I need to let go in any moment. This is in fact what I have been doing. I not only let go, but also take up Spirit as my mode of living.

My ego wishes for more, but that is all there is.

My Legacy

I always wanted to \”be somebody.\”

Steven Covey drilled it into my young mind: I should leave a legacy. We are trained to be achievers. Everyone aspires to be the boss.

The nuns get to be Sister Somebody, holy and validated. I really wanted to be a mystic and thought you had to be a monk. I got kicked out of the monastery and told to be a monk in the world. As such the struggles of the workplace have become part of my contemplation.

This is my problem. In my life right now, I am an athlete, an engineer and a solitary spiritualist. Which one of these things is going to be amazing?

This is specialness at it\’s finest: the one thing I want is to be special. Especially because it makes me better than everyone else.

I have no high powered theology or \”spin\” to make this all better. It is just as well I admit it once again: just be.

The pursuit of inner peace, mental quiet, as the goal of my life, the highest achievement available to me produces a painful agony and unendurable hopelessness in some portion of my emotional system. The goal of peace instigates irrational action and insidious subterfuge on the part of the one who wants to be great. This inner angst is the emotional system I face every day.

No wonder I spend half the time thinking I\’m a worthless piece of crap and the a moment later, I am nurtured in the mental quiet and at peace with my being. I have not found an escape route. I want to break the pattern of my thinking. That\’s the thing. In solitude, and if practiced intentionally, you see your thoughts. You become aware of what is going on in your head. The negativity is amazing. But I can choose. Its a matter of remembering not to believe the lies.

I wrote the above last evening. This morning, I found myself filled with the quiet determination to connect with my soul. See, when I get quiet and listen to the silent voice within, all is well.