Exploring the Intersection of Endurance and Creativity: Introduction

Human achievements are pretty astounding!

Men have landed on the moon, symphonies have been written and brought to life, great feats of architecture have been accomplished, so many to mention. There are times when I look around and think, where has the fortitude of life gone? Laziness and apathy have replaced action and endurance. Many things have contributed to this in recent years—our consumerist mentality, the ease with which we can use and dispose of things, and inventions that can pretty much eliminate effort from our daily lives. It's a long list. We have been conditioned to rely heavily on trappings that as recent as 20 years ago were unheard of.

I long to reverse this and invite you to do the same. In the words of psychologist William James,

“Everyone knows what it is to start a piece of work, either intellectual or muscular, feeling stale… And everybody knows what it is to “warm up” to his job. The process of warming up gets particularly striking in the phenomenon known as “second wind.” On usual occasions we make a practice of stopping an occupation as soon as we meet the first effective layer (so to call it) of fatigue...

...In exceptional cases we may find, beyond the very extremity of fatigue-distress, amounts of ease and power that we never dreamed ourselves to own — sources of strength habitually not taxed at all, because habitually we never push through the obstruction, never pass those early critical points.”

Do you remember the last time you tried something new or emptied the tank in an endeavor? Think about it. Or maybe a time when you quit something and then took it up again only to find a lot of rust had set in? Happens to us all. I am an ultra-runner, but I haven't always been. An ultra-marathon is any distance above a marathon. For me it means 50 miles and upwards. I have run everything from 40 to 100 hundred miles, through day and night, extreme heat and snowstorms, and for what? To accomplish something I once thought was utterly impossible.

You've probably felt this, too. It might not have been about running through the night; it may have been a seed planted in your mind to start a new business, or to take up a seemingly complex musical instrument, or to sail around the world on a boat. Regardless of what it is, it all starts with an idea. The problem is we let the world pummel our dreams out of us in a bunch of ways.

Over the next six days I will be posting a new part of this series. Tomorrow is part one: Ignoring Can't.

Malcolm McLoughlinComment