Time passes, whether we want it to or not. In the good times, it seems to fly by and we wish the moments would slow down before they become memories. In bad times, minutes seem a torture of survival. Sometimes, goals and deadlines are upon us before we know it and we are caught unprepared. Time is so intangible, and yet, for right or wrong, we use it to value so many things…our maturity, our commitment, our worth to our employers. Every now and then, time becomes completely irrelevant; it ceases to lend meaning to where we are, who we are with, what we are doing, or where we are going. In those moments, we simply are… That is what it’s like to push the limits of ability, to go into the unknown separated from fear, to feel everything and nothing because past and future do not exist.
I could romanticize the bucket list achievement of finishing a 100 mile foot race, tell funny stories to make it seem like something anyone could do, drive up stupidity/bad-ass points for finishing in the face of low mileage, injuries, and long work hours leading up to the race, educate you in my nutrition/hydration/pacing choices, or scare away future racers by bringing everyone into the experience of running through hailstorms, sleep deprivation, and failing Achilles tendons. Instead, when asked about what it was like to run the Thunder Rock 100, it is most honest for me to say that it simply was. The rain was. The pain was. The cold was. The moment was. Time was not. Each moment was new and unique, no step like the last, yet not compared to any other step.
As humans, we are uniquely equipped to carry memories of the past and anticipation of the future with us. This gives us more capacity for hope and gratitude, but also for more stress and pain and fear. That, in combination with our opposable thumbs, allows our species to have more impact on the world and environment than any other. Detaching ourselves from time is not what we are taught or our natural state of being, but finding that detachment can give us new perspective on value. How much more could we do if we step back and see pain as just pain, without fear of whether it will continue? I don’t think you have to run for 27 hours to find that detachment. Each person has their place where it’s easiest to experience a moment as just a moment…in meditation, on the bike, performing surgery, painting, dancing, jumping out of a plane, etc. Spend time where time itself ceases to exist and work to bring those “timeless” lessons into ordinary life. Those lessons teach us that time and value, while sometimes related, are not synonymous, which frees us to endure more, love more, and live more than we ever imagined.