Wednesday, March 5

The Misunderstood Wildebeest: A Voice Crying Out

Jack Rabbit (aka, Hare): Didja see the STA post ‘bout the Sheltowee Endurance Challenge?  72 miles in 36 hours from Cumberland Falls to Livingston.

Big Turtle (aka, Tortoise): Lame.

Rabbit: Whaddaya mean?

Turtle: I can see the flyer now: “Blow by some of the best scenery on the Sheltowee!”

Rabbit: But…

Turtle: “Like watching a National Geographic film on fast forward!”

Rabbit: Hey!

Turtle: Give me a break; they should have an inner city endurance run.  See how quick people can get out of their neighborhoods.

Rabbit:  Point taken, but I don’t think you miss all that much when you go afoot.  This is a good way for me to see 72 miles of terrain I wouldn’t be able to see in three weekends over six months otherwise.  I’m a busy guy. 

Turtle: I humbly continue to disagree.

Rabbit: I was never competitive until I discovered endurance racing, but now I’m compelled to test myself.

Turtle: I just think you would get more out of those 72 miles on a few separate backpacking trips with some time to enjoy them.  Leisurely morning coffee at the campsite before packing up and heading down the trail at a reasonable pace.

Rabbit: Sometimes I wish I was content with taking it easy, but my high strung nature won’t let me slow it down like that.  I see the value in your point of view, but I never seem to have the luxury of time to experience it that way.

Turtle: Free your mind and your body will follow.


Turtle has a point, but he is also biased by his own preferences as is Rabbit.  Rabbit’s not as conflicted as he makes it sound.  He wants the speedy experience.  It’s in his nature, and he’s only conflicted because of societal pressure—and not just from Turtle—to slow down.  Turtle makes valid points, but his is not the only way to experience wildebeests.

Somehow Turtle’s Parthian shot rings true.  Maybe some of what Rabbit thinks is ingrained conditioning is just attitude.  But then again, what’s the difference?  Fast or slow, the experience is for the experiencer.

And I have it on good authority that Rabbit has learned to enjoy slowing it down in his middle years.  He has come to realize that smaller chunks of sensory input are sometimes better savored.  But his appetite for fast efforts on long trails remains.  Speed records.  Fastest known attempt.  First in age group (most likely distinction for our Rabbit).  These are the challenges Rabbit seeks out for himself.

And Turtle’s way makes for a rich experience.  Time spent in the wildebeest should be savored.  It doesn’t have to be about seeing as much of a large area as possible so much as seeing much of a small area.  The experiences can be equitable.

Ultimately, it's not really about speed.  Fast or slow, are you getting out there?  Are you spending time under the sun and away from electronics?  Are you breathing fresh, clean air?  Are you getting your heart rate up and enriching your knowledge and experience base?  How you do it, well...that's up to you.

In Rabbit’s defense, he goes under his own power and shuns motor-assisted conveyances whenever possible.  He allows himself the beautiful limitation of going at a human speed about the world.  Two miles an hour or four, you still see more than you would from behind the 55 mph windshield.  And our Rabbit is quite the opportunist, taking advantage of short gaps of time to hit the local trails and backcountry.  For Rabbit to explore at a distance he has to employ some economy of time. 

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