It’s been a period of transition. From the secure to the uncertain. From an assured sense of being to doubt. An easy, formulaic way of life to an unstructured version. I was building my own narratives for getting ‘mentally prepared’.
‘It would be nothing like I’ve ever done before. 18 hour workdays. Austere living. Intensity. iI am ready to give up. Lot of sacrifices ahaead’. After all, I was charting my own course. This mental narative got intense as the day got closer. I didn’t realise it then – but as much as it was exciting, my narrative was killing me inside.
Until one pleasant October morning when me and my muddled brain were walking and listening to a conversation on a Tim Ferris podcast. It was with an author named Derek Sivers – a Type A personality – intense, high energy and laser focussed on outcomes. Derek talked about an episode in his life when he aimed to hit peak physical fitness levels by cycling. He set his schedule like a typical Type A character would do – shrill alarm at 5 am – quick warm up before he got on the bike to pedal the life out of it. He put in every ounce of effort and just went flat out on the complete 25 mile circuit. And measured his timing every single day: Forty Three minutes.
He adhered to his schedule like clockwork. Every morning he would head out, go flat out on the circuit, come back pooped. But no matter how much his body ached he would push himself up the next morning. For close to a month, he would just will himself to get on the bike and never broke his routine. And hit 43 minutes every day.
But one morning David just did not have it in him when the alarm rang. Just could not summon the intensity and drive. His mind was pleading him to take it easy. But David still gets up. Makes some coffee. And then decides he will not break the routine but will take it easy. ‘I will not pedal hard just for today and go at half my normal pace’
So he gets on the bike and starts off easy. As he turns around the corner of his home, the tall green palms on the sandy stretch pass by and he notices multi-coloured homes with green lawns and brown picket fences. Chirpy kids, look up and wave at him as he passes by. He hits the smooth road on the Santa Monica bay and his face breaks into a smile spotting dolphins popping on the surf. His ears pick up the sounds of cheer from the early morning surfers. Just at the point where he takes his U-turn a flock of sea gulls break into a flight as he approaches. The cold sea breeze grazes his being leaving him refreshed. He hears himself humming as he pedals back home.
He gets off his bike, stops his watch and calls out to his wife : ‘You know, I’ve had the best ride in ages. Never felt this good. Refreshed. Best time ever. I am sure I would have taken a lot more time though..’
And then he looks down at the timer on his stop watch. He is stunned. Looks up at his wife and checks again. He cannot belive what the timer is showing: Forty Five Minutes.
‘Did it take me to just give up 2 minutes of my best time to get the best ride of my life?’
Just 2 minutes extra at what he thought was his ‘half-pace’ and ‘taking it easy’.
Just 2 minutes from 43 to 45. That’s all it took to gain the ride of his life.
A lot of times, that’s all it takes to let go.
The story stopped me on my tracks. Made me think what the heck was I building up in my head.
I think I found my version of 2 minutes to give up.
And the journey so far has been splendid.