Lessons from the Black Swamp

Our darkness fosters all of our treasure. It is our darkness in which we are afraid. It is only when we bring light into this abyss, can we realize the potential each of us harness. A never-ending quest realizing we aren’t enough. We are enough because we persist. We are enough because we know HOW to endure. We don’t quit.

The Black Swamp lives in us. It is hidden deep. It resides underneath our ego. What did I do well? What can I do better? Where was I weak? Where was I strong? How was this situation different from before? Our quest begins with questions. After questioning my performance I came up with three lessons that this race taught me about life.

Lesson One – Intention Is Our Ignition

“I know I did well, I just – know I could have done better. I sandbagged on the flats. I wasn’t honest with myself and played it safe.” I thought to myself on the way home from Savage Race Ohio. “I can’t do that. I need to be honest with myself. Next week I have to try and bust.” Over and over I told myself this. “Run hard, don’t be afraid to bust. It’s just a race.”

I’ve busted before. I ran too hard and couldn’t recover quick enough. My motor died. It was my first race, Warrior Dash. Ever since then I’ve had a quiet moto, “Just run your race, stay steady.” It’s got me this far. Sometimes our beliefs serve us in seasons. My new intention, try and bust. I want to hear me breathe like a train. I heard the train today. It is important to investigate our intention.

"Sometimes our beliefs serve us in seasons."

By using intention as our ignition we are able to more effectively use our time in situations, for our days and even our weeks. What is our intention? Does it ignite you to perform at your highest level?

Lesson Two – Innocence Resides With Familiarity

The judgment came loud as a gavel in an empty courtroom. The guilt of my inadequacies clothed me like a poncho. The first time I came to a race I didn’t know anyone. There wasn’t anything familiar. As a result, I was uncomfortable and as soon as I finished I’d leave. As I’ve been racing longer, there are more familiar faces. I get to the venue and it feels like a reunion. I like staying long. While I race, I know who I’ll be next to. I even have secret and not so secret healthy rivalries. The guilt I felt from my social inadequacies melted away in familiarity’s warmth.

The second illustration is painted in preparation. In the past, I stood at the start line with no idea on what to expect. I’m okay at tackling the obstacles as they come. However, with no clue as to when the end of the race was, I found myself waiting way too long pick up the pace. I even let my mind get the best of me not knowing I only have a mile left. If I were prepared I'd know where I was. 

Racing a repeated venue provides mercy to the guilt of recklessness. Through prior experience, my training has become more specific. Also, I have a base time to beat from the year before. I know where I am on the course at any given moment and know when to dig a little deeper embracing more of that insidiously delicious lactic acid.

Our innocence resides with familiarity. By feeling in a familiar environment, we feel more welcome to be ourselves. We feel more confident in our abilities. We also can push our limits a bit more safely. We can not use the cheap escape of, I didn’t know any better. Being so, we learn how to perform better and with more authenticity.

Lesson Three – Imagine Your Opposition

My heavy breath beats the thick humid air. As it tears apart the space in front of me, I charge through the flat grassy transitions between obstacles. “He’s right there. I have to catch him.” I imagine Joe three steps ahead of me. “I know he isn’t going to sandbag, he’s in the heat behind me. I won’t let him beat me again.” I push toward the ghostly image of the tall man in short blue shorts and a handlebar mustache.

Often our opposition isn’t physically in our current reality. We know they are there and all we can do is use the power of our imagination to give us a step ahead. Like Joe in the second heat, my imagination allowed me to race him even though he was racing separately. What about life though? Isn’t it the same? Isn’t our opposition in life often apart from where we are currently physically?

Imagining our opposition allows us to push harder when others think they can take it easy. While they think they can be comfortable, we pursue the ghostly image of our imagination. Is it in business, personal development, or spiritual advancement? When we think about what our opponent is doing, we can prepare and adjust accordingly. We push harder because we know that they are. No matter where we are, or what we are doing, our most powerful weapon we are blessed with is our imagination. Level up by learning to use it, rather than it using you.

"Level up by learning to use your imagination, rather than it using you."

These three lessons from the Black Swamp are lessons I won’t soon forget. Beginning not just our races, but situations, days and weeks with intention can ignite our performance. Using familiarity or creating it with preparation can create a sense of innocence allowing us to operate more authentic. Finally, we can level ourselves up by learning to use our imagination rather than it using us.


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