Suffering. We tend to think about what defines it, what causes one to suffer. Yes, one could be addicted to searing lungs and numbing pain or the fascination of having tormented one’s mind or the insane game of testing one’s ability to survive extreme conditions. My interest in suffering is not how I suffer, or what causes me to suffer, but instead it’s the small gleams of wisdom derived from suffering. Over the past couple of years, I’ve constantly been hearing the phrase “the fundamentals are good”, and although it’s become a laughable and overused phrase, it does have some real meaning.
Everyone will experience some degree of suffering because suffering is a fundamental order to moving forward (code word for getting old). Suffering is not pleasant, but it’s a worthy act and without it, I know I’d become stagnant, indifferent, I’d almost venture to say….frozen. In my mind, peace can only come through understanding who you are and what you want. You don’t get to that point by not discovering. I’d imagine the opposite of suffering is being comfortable and the opposite of going forward would be backwards, and if you don’t refuse the status quo, then you accept it. This is why cycling is such an amazing act of living. You must go forward, you must deal with the seat, you can’t escape the elements (okay, you can, but you get the point).
After being in the NICU for a couple of months, I began to take notice of how the place operated like an orchestra, and eventually concluded that the place was a grand opera. The machines beep in a rhythm, people move with a sense of character, there’s drama, comedy, and the occasional flub. There is no one who is without a role. Sounds like being out on a group ride…and although suffering in the NICU is quite different from suffering on a bike, the opportunity is the same. It’s the opportunity to learn something about yourself. I think one disconnect non-cyclist have about cyclist is that we randomly select some stretch of road to become a nuisance to cars and trucks.
The reality is that every cyclist is out there searching…searching for clarity, looking for humility, praying for calmness. Becoming fit is a byproduct of searching, but the bottom line is that we are choosing to suffer. The NICU was a strange, weird place, not too dissimilar from the lifestyle of an avid, rabid, cyclist. We suffer, we search, we discover, we learn. Sounds too simple to be effective, but for me, simple is a good, great thing.