In my past, I've met a few people who have basically said, "If you aren't living on the edge, you aren't living," or "If you aren't living on the edge, then you are taking up too much room." I never really thought about those words until I was in the midst of the last 6 miles of my first official marathon through the finish line (I've run 26.2 miles before but not in an official race; the official race is a different animal; nothing like it). One runner said it best when he said:
The closer we come to our own personal edges, the more we move away from the physical and unto a mental landscape, one that is fraught with dangers, traps waiting for the unknowing. It is the place where cause and effect start to break down, where time loses its grip – a place where chaos reigns supreme.
This explains why most people don't venture near the edge as they are too comfortable away from the edge and relax in the familiar, save, known and predictable. For me, the marathon was a Life Changing Event. Without taking a risk and venturing at least a step toward the edge, we fail to begin to understand our true capabilities or what we really have inside; we just remain in the status quo.
Most people associate "on the edge," with someone crazy, unstable, risky; we associate it with a negative image. For me, the marathon forced me to take a few steps toward the edge. To a place where mental and physical depletion meet; a place where one has no reserves. I have to admit, it was a scary place. When you enter that place, simple logic doesn't help you; time loses its grip; cause and effect break down; simple logic doesn't apply. This is the unknown.
Doesn't this sound like the original opening to the classic “Twilight Zone”? By the way, one of the best series and Rob Serling is one of, if not the most talented director ever. Essentially, once you move away from the physical to the mental landscape, you are entering the Twilight Zone. We all like control; well, “on the edge,” you control very little. Funny thing is, in real life, we control very little although we think we have some control.
I’ve never been one to preach but something inside is telling me I must share my experiences (especially over the last 3 years) with others as it might be beneficial to a few folks. I highly recommend that you venture at least “one step” toward the edge; get out of your comfort zone. Remember, being near the edge is only temporary and then, once there, it’s not as much of an unknown. In fact, you are expanding your comfort zone.
I just found out that less than one tenth of the world finishes a marathon each year. I’m honored and humbled to be part of that club and now I understand why it is such a big deal. I played almost every sport and I’ve never been challenged nor ventured so far near the edge as I did during the marathon. Imagine a constant battle with your left brain telling you to stop; you can’t do this; you aren’t ready; you are crazy, and you still push through. It was an out of body experience. Even the 3 days following the marathon, I didn’t feel like I was totally back mentally. Everything looked different; the sky, trees, grass, my kids, wife . . . everything.
I feel like I broke through a wall. The scary thing is I could see me breaking through the wall but a whole new series of walls was waiting for me. This makes me think of one of my favorite movies being the original Matrix. Every time Neo ventured deeper, there was more walls waiting for him but each time, he never saw the world the same again. The world is so vast; there’s so many great people out there; so many special people; so much spirit, love, determination . . . but we can’t begin to understand, relate or even sympathize until we move toward the edge in some way or another. Otherwise we live in a box (just like the all the folks that were part of the Matrix).
Really, think about it? I know I’m just starting a new (and perhaps scary) venture in life. I’m so lucky to have my wife by my side as I try to comfort the “new walls,” in some way, fashion or form.