“The ‘I’ come from down in the valley…you’re laying claim to that character’s experience. You’re trying to do right by it, as a song writer. You take the risk of singing in that voice. Your job is to faithfully imagine the world, and others lives; in a way that respects them, sort of honors them; and records them in your own way, somewhat faithfully.”
This is an excerpt from Bruce Springsteen giving explanation to the meaning of his song The River. Ever since our trip to Chicago recently to see him live, we’ve been unable to stop listening to his music. Watching his live performance was, in short, mind blowing. The guy has been writing and performing music his entire life; at 67 years of age, he has absolutely nothing to prove. Yet he came out to an audience of some 20,000 people and played nonstop for 4 hours. Despite being incredibly far from the stage, he made us and thousands of others feel an intricate part of his performance. We were listening to The River recently and though I’ve heard the words many times, this time they struck me differently. It got me thinking about what was being said and who was saying it. He sings of making mistakes in life but owning up to them and doing what must be done to keep moving forward. He speaks directly to the working-class; something that he may or may not have been directly a part of, but he has the ability to respectfully put himself in others shoes, walk their path and put the experience to words. Regardless of his own personal (and immense) success’, he has never lost sight of his roots, where he came from; those surrounding him, and those that buoyed him to where he is.
When reflecting on my most recent race, I’ve had a tough time finding any words to construct a recap of the experience. It’s easy to write about a breakthrough performance, something profound and monumental. Likewise, it’s easy to write about something incredibly tough; where you had to overcome massive obstacles yet you persevered. Arizona was just…not at all what it was ‘supposed to be’. What does that even mean? In this context of meaning…everything was dialed. My body felt strong, my energy was great; my attitude was in the right spot, physically I was the best I’d been all season long. I was excited, relaxed, and just keyed up just to get out and go. Stoked for the opportunity and ready to unleash something great. I’ve done this stuff long enough to know ‘that feeling’. While it started out optimistic in the swim, it went downhill quick. I got onto the bike, the discipline I was precisely ready to roll the dice and really push myself; and there was nothing there. My legs hurt and for the effort being put forth, the speed and performance I needed was greatly lacking. It took all I had not to pull the plug after the first of three laps. Thankfully, I started to come around and felt quite a bit better the remaining 75 miles; but it was still tough to find my rhythm. The run, that’s where I’ll shine…I just know it. I’ll put my head down and plug away like I always do. Alas, about 8 miles in and the wheels started to fall off. I kept pushing;, kept working; just moving forward to the best of my ability on the day. Suffice to say, I was disappointed with my result.
But when I look back on it and step away from the result itself on paper, there is something I’m immensely proud of. And that is the pride in the fight. I’ve never seen myself as someone where things have come easily. I’ve had some great days on the race course, and in the large scheme, this was not a terrible day…but it was vastly far from what I’d trained for, what I’d aimed for and where I saw myself on the day. But it is these days when you’re knocked down on your ass and you go down fighting that I find upon reflection I’m most proud of. When every bone in your body tells you “I’m ready” and the day laughs in your face. It just humanizes you. I won’t lie and say I was happy to be 8th place. But what I can hold my head high from is the ability to stay strong when my body hurts and I feel like I suck; to remember my ‘why’ when I’m out there feeling beat down and defeated; and never to lose sight of my roots. Just because you attain success at something, just because you may be ‘competent’ at it…doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. I’ve never wanted it to be easy. And while there are few things that feel better than nailing a goal, I think I’ll always have more pride in the fight because that’s what defines who we become.
And at the end of the day, we’re all ultimately the same; doing what we do to the best of our abilities, falling down, getting back up; succeeding, struggling. Being unapologetically ourselves. Don’t ever hesitate to be proud regardless of the outcome if you know in your heart you put best self yourself out there; and there is literally only one person in the world who can know this. Take pride in the best you have. Take pride in the fight.
photo credit of One Multisport