January 2009

It Could Be Worse

Author: Craig Hysell

January. That time of year when we get those December credit card bills and ask, “Can that be right?” That time of year when the holidays have passed us by and we are left to wander around aimlessly in the cold with our new gifts and gadgets, wondering, “So, now what do we do?” That time of the year when we look in the mirror and resolve to “make some changes.”

Change is necessary to personal growth; it is the only virtue which can perpetuate evolution. Yet, change is terrifying because it is a step into the unknown, and what most of us do not know, we fear. People who do not evolve live stagnant, boring, unhappy lives. Who of us looks in the mirror and says, “Yes! That’s exactly what I want! A stagnant, boring, unhappy life!”

But, where must we begin with this seemingly daunting and frightening task of change? We begin where this article always does, with simplicity and perspective. We begin by turning what was once a frightening or terrifying enterprise into something exciting, adventurous and passionate! We begin by grabbing some motivation from those out there who’ve had it worse.
Then we evolve from there…

On Getting Healthy: Ironman competitions are often celebrated as some of the most grueling triathlon events on the planet. The endurance races are comprised of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run, all done in succession. The current course record at the Ironman World Triathlon Championship in Hawaii, is eight hours four minutes eight seconds, set by Belgian, Luc Van Lierde, in 1996. Impressive, right? Of course, as you may have guessed already, it could be worse… The Deca Ironman is a much more ferocious animal.

The Deca Ironman is an Ironman times ten: 24 mile swim, 1120 mile bike ride and 262 mile run done in succession. The event, held in Monterrey, Mexico, must be completed in 14 days time in order to be recorded. Marcel Heineg, this year’s winner, completed the race in 206 hours 29 minutes and 2 seconds. (That’s over 8 days of physical exertion.) At bobbysrun.co.uk/ironman.html, one contestant had this to say about the 1997 Deca Ironman, “It took me two years to recover from the race in Mexico. My health suffered from the supreme effort I had given and from the amount of painkillers I consumed.”

There’s also an Ironman times 20…

Results: Working out three days a week is no big deal.

On Improving Your Spirituality: Miyamoto Musashi is widely considered to be the baddest and most spiritual samurai that ever lived. >From the time he was 13 years old, Musashi began fighting duels. Throughout the late 1500s and early 1600s, he engaged in over 60 tests of swordsmanship—some to the death—and never lost. What’s even more amazing is that Musashi was a self-taught swordsman and ronin, a samurai who served no master but himself. He became the best by breaking away from tradition.

Musashi was also a tremendous painter and calligrapher, bringing the same disciplines that served in his swordsmanship to the brush. In 1643, Miyamoto sequestered himself in a cave as a hermit to write his legendary book, Way, Go Rin No Sho. (The Book of Five Rings) He died three months later at the age of 62 from what is now believed to have been thoracic cancer.

In the introduction to The Book of Five Rings, Musashi writes, “I have not followed the paths of other men. I have lived without the benefit of a teacher; and by my own devices, I became the master of myself, and thereby master of the sword and the brush, never differentiating between any of these ‘arts’.”

Results: You don’t have to listen to others, and you don’t have to be a master painter or samurai to live on a higher plane. You just have to believe in the life that calls to you and be willing to live it.

On Achieving Your Dreams: Nobody would have ever guessed that the sickly and asthmatic child would leave an impact on the world in the way he did. Upon his graduation from Harvard, and after losing the esteemed college’s boxing championship, doctors advised this young man to find a desk job and avoid strenuous activity due to a serious heart problem.

Instead, he headed out west, writing about his adventures as a hunter and deputy sheriff for various eastern magazines. He once brought three outlaws overland by himself in order that they may face trial, reading Tolstoy to stay awake (who knew?) for the 40-hour journey.

He was nominated for the Medal of Honor in the Spanish-American War. He reformed a corrupt New York City Police Department and later became governor of the same state. At 42, he became the youngest U.S. president in the history of the United States (refusing to swear on the Bible) after William McKinley was shot and killed in 1901. He was re-elected to the office in 1904.

During his presidential years, Theodore Roosevelt became renowned for trust-busting, regulating industry, conservation, square deals, ordering Lincoln’s portrait placed on the penny, building the Panama Canal and speaking softly while carrying a big stick. He was the first president to study judo after he was blinded in his left eye during a boxing session and coined the term, “good to the last drop,” when describing the coffee he had at the Maxwell House Hotel. When campaigning for the presidency in 1912, he was shot in the chest. He performed his 90-minute speech anyway.

Roosevelt died in his sleep on January 6, 1919. Woodrow Wilson’s vice president, Thomas Marshall, declared, “Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight.”

Results: Human beings are not their bodies; they are their choices. Always.

Let Us Know what You Think ...

commenting closed for this article