Saturday, March 5, 2022

Uncomfortably Challenged

Ryan in the Grasslands
In about one year, my friend Ryan (pictured left) will be in Alaska participating in the Iditarod Trail Invitational. He will be traversing 350 miles on the sometimes marked, sometimes visible, and always challenging trail on his fat bike. He won entry into this event in a drawing of the divisional winners and runner ups in the Tuscobia Winter Ultra. He has been searching out maps, watching online for hints and helps from this year's event, contemplating gear needs, riding locally in the brutal winds and frigid temperatures, and connecting with past ITI participants to prepare himself for this ultra adventure. This may be the first time Ryan has gone into an event with so many unknowns. He is an experienced winter, ultra distance athlete. Yet this is a longer distance in a new location with unique weather patterns and copious amounts of barren wilderness. 

In two weeks, I will be directing my final March ultra event for Extreme North Dakota Racing. It appears that two younger ultra athletes will take leadership of the event in the future. Fresh eyes and fresh ideas are always welcomed! One of my many quirks (for this event in particular) is to mark the course well. I want it to follow the established North Country Trail. Following the Trail is relatively easy when there is little or no snow. In recent years that has not been the case. The trail becomes lost underneath months of snow. This
Blaze on Oak Leaf Loop
produces great anxiety within me. I obsess about making certain it is within a couple feet of the Trail. Maps, painted blazes on trees, and GPS tracking makes it feel easier. Yet I still get frustrated when I cannot accurately and with certainty be within my established margin of error. 

Which path to take?
Lately my greatest challenge has been accepting uncertainty. This is not about aging, retirement, vocation, finances, or health. It specifically relates to my wife. She has a progressive, degenerative disorder that affects every aspect of her being. I want to do the correct things, say honest and encouraging words, and provide freedom while at the same time maintaining a safe environment. It seems easy in theory, but extremely difficult in reality. Which is the correct path? What happens if I veer off course? How many people will be affected by my choices? i know the basics. I have faced challenge previously. For many reasons this challenge feels different. 

Current Read
Recently I began reading "The Comfort Crisis" by Micheal Easter. There were many reasons why this book attracted my attention. One was its recommendation by another blog I read. I was struck by the discussion of a Japanese practice called, "misogi." It has diverse spin-offs from its original concept. What captured my thoughts was the broad concept of challenges which crush an individual's perception of comfort. As a person takes risks and confronts fears, stress and discomfort rises. As that person accepts and moves into the midst of stress and discomfort, personal resilience and improved self-concept are part of the results This happens even if the challenge is not completed. New vision and expanded views of oneself and the world replace previous structures. 

I am in the process. I am not certain of the outcome. Attempting to keep my anxiety in check and moving along the unfamiliar and uncomfortable path is where I am at today. The journey continues!

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