Friday, April 21, 2006
The Beast Is Yet to Come
It's seventeen days until I face the Beauty and her Beast. The Beauty: the beaches of St. Croix; The Beast: the infamous hill. The Beast lurks around a hairpin turn at mile 20 of the 56 mile bike leg of the triathlon. He is 7/10ths of a mile long and 55 stories high. The hill is no less steep as the start of a rollercoaster. He has no mercy and nobody gets over unscathed.
Reaching the summit is a monumental, heart pounding, and leg burning event. At the top there will be a water station waiting to refresh me and the others in the suffer-fest before descending on a twisting, turning, tire slipping, white knuckled, scream of a descent. At that point I will feel relieved that the worst is past. However, unless I’m aware, a complacency could be my undoing because what awaits me are more hills, longer in length on the windy, shade barren southern side of the island. If I’m not eaten by The Beast I’ll be fighting not to be dusted in the second-half heat. Each peak will be followed by a valley. A hot and sticky preamble of pain.
Maybe I should fear the valleys more than the climbs to the summit? Hmmm…
Is landing in the valley as important as reaching the mountaintop?
Yep, and probably more so.
It’s an obvious rule of geography that you can’t have one without the other so they are interdependent – though they provide different experiences. Often, we position valleys as awful “shadow of death” experiences. It's no wonder we want to avoid them.
But even with this frightening picture, remember that it’s only a “shadow.” A shadow can’t hurt. It is however, a reminder that becoming complacent about life will probably get you into trouble. Going through tough experiences reminds us that there are courageous choices we need to make. Nothing lifts you out of a valley faster than making a courageous choice.
My grandmother would say to me, “You are tallest when you look up to people and smallest when you look down on them.”
The valley is where you learn. They valley is where you rest. The valley is where you experience humility. The valley is where you build energy to attack the mountain again. Mountaintops are great and exhilarating and fun to conquer. But, it’s also hard to stay on the mountaintop unless you sit down and camp out there. Then you might become stagnant and lazy and soon someone else will show up determined to kick your butt off the top. Besides, who has time to sit on their laurels? We’re in a race after all. Instead, enjoy the mountaintop – but know the valley comes next. All ups have a down. All highs have a low. Learn to enjoy them both.