Today was a much better day than yesterday. How you ask? Well, I rode my bike. I rode my bike with the voice of disdain and judgement ringing in my ears at first. Thankfully I’m becoming much more adept at catching it, as I stated in a previous post. It was odd to recognize the voice, and instantly say to myself ‘Shut. Up.’ It, the dissing voice, could’ve gone on like that for the next two hours. Thinking of the mindfulness activities I’ve read so much about allowed me to drill down a bit further and find why the hell I was on the bike in the first place. The sensations always give me a rush, and it’s not just the speed. It’s so much more. The wind in my face, the heat of the bright sun on the back of my calves. The tension in my quads and glutes as I felt the tension of the chain gripping the gear and pushing my bike down the road. I felt the furrow in my brow that creeps onto my face when I start straining and not flowing. All beautifully simple enjoyments I began to experience.
Which randomly brings me to the reason for the name of this blog which I will now explain! When I was younger my father worked with me a lot on running form, and the necessity of staying relaxed and keeping your form even as you are falling apart at the end of a hard track event. At the time that event was the 800meter. The mantra ‘speed and grace’ was something I came up with for myself as a sort of reset button. when I found myself either nervous before a race, during the race, or in the moments of a workout when the body begins revolting against the mind and running form begins to break down, out would come the mantra ‘speed and grace’. Most of the time it was enough to keep my technique from completely falling apart while also distracting me from the immense amount of pain I was experiencing at the time. So here I am, literally 20 years later, using it during most hard workouts and race situations these days. Amazing how an 11 year old can come up with something so simple yet profound enough to persist in staying with me to this day.
We always remark at the gracefulness of the athlete or performer in the demonstration of that at which they are best. That grace, power and elegance they seem to innately possess took thousands and thousands of hours, repeats and do-overs to perfect. All of those forced failures, unforeseen failures, trials and triumphs built their ability to perform as if they were simply drawing a breath. Something about that knowledge of the hard path to perfecting your ability makes the simplicity of a mantra that much more valuable I guess. Think about it, the myriad of them we see every day, ‘don’t quit’ ‘just breathe’ ‘one more try’ ‘you got this’. These simplest of statements that immediately seem to turn the volume down when life is a roaring din. We complicate the heck out of so much these days, and it’s those most basic of statements that seem to bring us back into focus. They bring us back into touch with our body and physical self, and also pull us out of the hopeless chasm known as our mind to which we sometimes fall victim.
You and I are the star of our show, arena, stage etc. I find myself failing to realize that all the time lately.
I’ll hold myself to this if you do. I say find your mantra. When life starts having at you, resort to it. Live it. Breathe it.