The path to Nirvana. Moksha. Baqaa. Enlightenment. Jannah. Euphoria. Satori. Zen. Ataraxia.

Nirvana. Moksha. Baqaa. Enlightenment. Jannah. Euphoria. Satori. Zen. Ataraxia.

There are numerous terms in different cultures and religions that virtually mean the same thing. It is about the human quest for eternal knowledge, peace and enlightenment. It is a state that is lucid, tranquil, all-encompassing and void of any distress or worry. It is the state of ultimate awakening yet it is also the state of absolute nothingness. It is what humans ultimately strive for in life. In the end, humans fail.

Have you ever experienced a runner’s high? Most endurance athletes at one point or another swear that they have. Scientists dispute it but athletes who experience it feel so good that it gives them absolute clarity of thought. I have experienced it. I often say to my friends, “A solution will present itself 40-or-so minutes into my run.” It is a Jedi-like statement, but I absolutely believe it.

As I was walking home after finishing the Ironman in Cabo, the answer to the frequently asked question, “Why do you do it?” came to me.

Ironman training is not trivial. When you train for an Ironman, there are numerous times you push yourself so hard that nothing else matters. All your stresses, your fears, your anxieties, your worries, your burdens and even your day-to-day tasks fall by the wayside. There times that you are exhausted beyond normal human capacities. Sometimes this is compounded by extreme weather (heat, rain, snow, visibility, dust, pollution), lack of hydration or nutrition, equipment failure, skin-chafing, sunburns, salt in your eyes, and the list goes on and on. Yet you keep going. You focus on a singular item; your next step or your next pedal stroke. You are at the end of your rope and you still go on. Your mind becomes empty. Your body is wrecked. You think of nothing. You go by muscle memory. Your brain is shutting down, yet you are moving. You move because you are simply moving. And you continue to move until you are completely spent and cannot move any more and are the the finish line of your training day. As you cross it, you are euphoric. You are totally exhausted and your mind is blank, yet you feel blissful. Is this not Zen?

This, my friends, is the closest I will get to Nirvana. Moksha. Baqaa. Enlightenment or whatever you want to call it. This is why I do the Ironman. It is addictive because we are searching for a state-of-being or a destination that does not exist. Yet we search on. It is human nature to search for answers.

I rested today to reflect on the Ironman in Cabo. I don’t care that my body still hurts. It will get better. My mind is sound and I am thankful for that. My soul…well…who knows!

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