I love the motivational messages about “the ultimate competitor lies within” and themes encouraging you to do your best to be your best. While most address athletic competition, I also appreciate the aspect in building strength of character.
As a younger man I lauded over the strength to lift heavy weights as a benchmark of who I was, and the lifting of even more weight for who I wanted to be. Thank God we grow past those shallow ambitions.
On my last ride I looked just ahead to see another, stronger bicyclist. I recognized him immediately as the same cyclist I’ve chased for years. He was also the same weightlifter, swimmer, runner, student, son and dad that taunted me for most of my life.
It was my shadow, and it peddled ahead of me and kept its position no matter how hard I beat against the wind. The “self-competitor” messaging flashed back as I toiled to increase and maintain a steady rhythm along the road.
In that moment of struggle to overcome him, I quickly considered, why am I out here giving chase when at home its warm and the couch is cozy? Yet I knew:
While it’s easy to call in sick whether you are or not; promise you will when you know you won’t; reply yes while you mean no; or feign the effort while avoiding the struggle, it’s all about character.
I fixed my sight ahead, dipped into the handlebar drops, shifted gears and gave chase!
Did I catch him? Did I catch me? Well, after the mid-way turn around the shadow fell behind me if that counted.
Kidding aside; not that day, or probably any other day because as we grow stronger much more is expected. It doesn’t that mean we are weak. It means that we are up to the challenge.