Livestrong Challenge Philadelphia was this past weekend and it was an amazing experience, the kind of peak experience everyone needs in life. Suffice it to say, calling it P-hill-adelphia is appropriate and it really is a challenge, not a walk in the park. I finished Saturday's run pretty well, but Sunday's difficult course, inclement weather, and subsequent mechanical which knocked me out with just five miles left is a tough one to swallow.
So tough I'm thinking of going back to Philly to tame that course. I need to avenge that DNF.
Tweeted back to me after I Tweeted in disgust about my thrown chain and subsequent DNF five miles from the finish by the amazing @lavagal who is coming back from a significant injury to her Achilles and a cyclist and aspiring runner herself (spouse of the incredible @alohajohn, one of the nicest, most athletic guys I know personally):
"Hugs, Ry! No shame! Your ride for #livestrong is from the <3 HEART!"
Yes, I was laying it all out there. At the end I had just decided I could and would finish this ride after a guy who passed me as I struggled up yet another climb told me, "Don't let those guys take you off the course. You'll have to live with it forever."
And now I have to live with it until I can do another Livestrong Challenge.
But more fuel to the fire--something I've been missing recently with my exceedingly helpful support system--might be useful. Yes, I believe I am in the best shape of my life, but I know I can be in even better shape--and I need to get there.
Tweeted to me by my friend @electric_bamboo after my less than enthused end of ride and somewhat more spirited discussion about his company's support of one of my favorite community resources in Hawai'i, HUGS:
"Kudos to you for teaching us all to support good causes."
Did I really teach that? Even among my social circle on Twitter others have been fundraising and supporting worthy causes all along. What was different? I don't know, but it's nice to know that at least one person thinks so.
And of course, part of this journey is to remember that the whys of what I do are at least as important as the whats. Livestrong was a great experience for me, but in my world, I am third. The people in my life--the ones who support me and I support back--are second, and they gave me every bit of support I could use. And faith is first--if there's anything that Shin Buddhism has taught me it's that life is about doing the right thing, and helping those who are in need is the right thing.
On the other hand, I am constantly challenged and need to remind myself that there is no bad karma and good karma, that karma just is, and to believe that there is a fairness or reciprocity out there that will happen if I just do the right thing--that the right things will happen to me--is just...out and out inaccurate.
The messages at Livestrong Village, heartbreaking and inspiring all the same, tell part of the story. So many good, loved people taken early or fighting for their lives against a disease that just came for them, no matter how good and loved they were. That's not fair--which is one reason I've tried to let that go.
I'm still trying.
Every so often I reflect back on @scrivener's bit about how people just love each other because they do and it doesn't have anything to do with anything else, like who you are or what you do.
I've said it before about how I've encountered battered women in my career who I swear have a death wish by going back to their abuser time and time again. I am not one to judge but I believe this is an example--it has nothing to do with who these men are or what they've done (like beat their wife within inches of a coma), these women keep saying, "But I love him!"
And they do.
That's not fair either.
So to add one and one together makes zero--zero sense if I believe in fairness. Great people who are taken too early by a horrible disease and people who are abusive continuing to be loved by those they abuse.
What does it mean?
If there really is no fairness in this world--which I believe in my head but have not totally convinced the rest of me of--then why do I strive to do the right thing?
Only one reason:
It's the right thing.
In reverence, I remain.
So, a question that is still in my head after all this time, with all that I said above: is it really possible to earn love? We know in families that love is supposed to be unconditional--that no matter how horrible the kids behaved today they'll still be loved, for instance.
Is that how it's supposed to be otherwise? I used to think not but I may now be less sure. Perhaps it's my own personal experience; after all it's never me who ends up breaking off a relationship--see Ms. Unreliable--and I really don't understand how to stop caring about someone.
That doesn't mean that I would chase endlessly after someone. Again, see Ms. Unreliable with the bizarre learning for me that honestly, it's easier--not better necessarily but indeed easier--to just be bitter. But that said, even though I know it would not work well--see previous relationship with Deanne and seven freaking years of trying to force something to work out--it's not like I can just stop caring. I believe I'm just built that way.
At the same time, what else am I supposed to do? The options are not necessarily better. Yes, it'd be easier for me and a whole lot less painful if Ms. Unreliable just went into a black hole and disappeared forever but that's not likely to happen and the whole reason I maintain that relationship is because she says she wants to stay friends. I guess I'd feel a bit better about it if she would actually act like she wanted to remain friends as well and do things like return calls or emails or answer when she asks me to call or remember birthdays but oh well, she just doesn't (and i scold myself over this because i seem to be expecting fairness). But to get back to the point, if it there is no fairness, then why do guys like me do things like open doors, pay for dates, be the white knight in shining armor?
Why, when we don't get the girl in the end anyway? Because we like pain? Because we want to be placed in the Friend Zone again?
Some would argue maybe, but I think it's just trying to do the right thing.
My Twitter friend @carmillelim blogged awhile ago about what she called "The Nice Guy Standard" and I am still not quite sure what to make of it. It seems to me that on one hand she believes women often "settle" for a "nice guy" and she believes that instead of settling, a guy ought to be nice as a minimum. Yet nowhere in the piece that I can figure out is where those of us who are nice guys (for lack of a better term) are supposed to make any of this work. We're settled for yet we're supposed to be minimums?
I guess it would just be easier if some late 30s/early 40s Japanese or Okinawan Toyota driving teacher or librarian just showed up at the temple. Like that'll happen.
So in the end, I don't know if there's anything better to do than what I do now. Just do the right thing. It doesn't mean anything will get better, or work out, or I'll become rich or the world's greatest blogger or social worker or Geek [kind of discouraged about Apple II stuff right now after a less than nice anonymous flame email and then a less than pleasant email exchange about a project I am (was?) working on] or even help me land the right lady friend.
But there's still nothing better to do.
So yes, even though it doesn't matter in terms of an outcome since, repeat after me, there is no fairness, it does matter.
Because there's no better path to follow.