Monday, 7 December 2009

One step at a time

In changing the world, as in endurance sport, it pays to take things one step at a time... and I think I was getting a bit ahead of the game with the British Council thinking.

Flow, as this fantastic book describes it, is something close to the essence of the true joy of sport, and a pre-condition is focusing completely on the task in hand. It is not all about winning - but equally, it is not about enjoying the view. It is about the perfect match of effort with challenge, the rubbing up of an individual against his or her individual limits. To reach this state, the action in question becomes the only thing there is... I recognise this deeply from my own experience, most recently from the swim in the Ironman, where the rhythm of my swimming became in some sense the whole of me. I was, for that period of time, a swimming creature, with no space or capacity to be otherwise. This is the purity of sport, this is its joy. The ability to be totally at one.

Of course, you don't have to be an eco athlete to achieve this. But I do wonder if it can make the sensation more authentic. It seems logical to me that there is an element of absorption in nature in this feeling - and it would therefore make sense that the fewer man-made barriers between you and nature, the purer that feeling, that joy can be.

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