Background noise

Throughout each day, our minds sift through information that’s constantly thrown at us. As we move throughout the world, we are presented with a barrage of sounds, and images that we have to filter. Our brains have to decide which bit of info to keep while ignoring or discarding the remainder (most stuff gets ignored). I find our ability to execute all of the background processing fascinating.

As I’ve begun to pay more attention to how I handle all the information, I’ve noticed some subtle actions that have a long-term impact. I’ve noticed that although it appears that most information gets ignored, there are bits and pieces that are captured but are not immediately impactful. The big, moving ideas are clearly the hooks that we latch onto and as a consequence and respond in some way. Maybe it’s a charity whose purpose touches us or a new type of running shoe that propels your foot faster with each stride. We are always getting hit with a “call to action“.

The Ninjas

Then, there are ideas that aren’t of obvious interest but don’t seem to get ignored by the brain’s ” this shit is useless” filter. Rather, these have some component of interest or something about them is sticky. They appeal to a desire or a need that we don’t have top of mind. For me, oftentimes it’s a goal that resonates but I don’t believe that I am capable of achieving it, so I consciously brush it away.

A recent example was doing an Ironman Triathlon. A few years ago, when I chose to begin training for an Olympic distance triathlon, I barely believed that I would be able to complete it. I gave myself about 9 months to prepare. In the background, I’d met several men that were actively doing Ironman races. I didn’t ever consciously think, I want to do an Ironman. But, because I was open to growing and learning and Ironman was in alignment with those particular goals, the idea of the race got stuck in the back corner of my mind. I didn’t even visit the idea, it was just there quietly waiting like a ninja in the forest on alert. Then, one of my friends decided to push, prod, and cajole me about doing the Ironman Texas race with him and the Ninja sprang into action. The idea came alive and took hold and became all-consuming.

Now, I enjoy Ironman triathlons.

Sneaking a peek into a possible future

Well, recently, I’ve noticed a new latent idea that has been lurking, very much like a camouflaged, hibernating creature. I didn’t realize it was sitting there until I sat still in silence. For decades, I’ve had a fascination with hiking and exploring the Patagonia region of Argentina. Last year I watched a YouTube video on an endurance triathlon called PatagonMan. I enjoyed the scenery and the idea of enduring such a beautiful and challenging event. Swimming in an ice-cold fjord, then riding in the mountains and finishing with a marathon run through the mountains (not sure why this is appealing, but it is).

I am aware that this is an extreme full-distance triathlon and should be taken very seriously. The course is remote and much of it requires each participant to be self-sufficient. Each racer is permitted (may be required) to have 1 person as their support crew. They can meet and provide aid at designated points along the course. There are even a few places where they can join you on the course.

Completing a full-distance triathlon (140 miles) with on-site support (nutrition, hydration, bathrooms, medical aid etc) is very difficult. Attempting to do one without on-site support in remote terrain in a foreign country seems astoundingly difficult.

Thus…the idea has gotten stuck in my head.

I didn’t fully comprehend what would be required to properly prepare for an Ironman, I simply decided that I would complete one. Perhaps this will be a similar endeavor one day.