Why do we compete?

Ever stop to wonder why we spend so much time, energy and money on something that rarely provides any financial gain? We take time away from our friends and family. We work until exhaustion. We obsess over every detail. Why? To lose a few pounds? To be a healthier, better looking person? Sure. But we could do that in a lot less time and a lot less $$ with a few hours a week in the gym. Difference is that we compete.

So why do we compete? Because it’s fun? Seriously? Does running intervals on the track until your lungs and legs are feel like they are completely engulfed in flames sound fun to you? What about riding a skinny saddle for hours on end with nothing protecting your bum, but thing chamois? Puking on the side of the road when your nutrition doesn’t go quite right? Fun is playing marco polo with your kids on a hot summer day. Fun is going to a concert on a Thursday night without worrying about how tired you will be at swim practice the next morning. No, what we do is not “fun”.

It is a hobby. So what is that separates the athelte from the guy who spends his weekends building intricate model train sets in his basment? Or simultaneously plays 10 hands of online poker for hours on end?

This is what I think: We compete to test ourselves. To come face to face with that part of our souls that we don’t want anyone else to know about. The uncertainty, the doubt, the anxiety. Competing makes us face those demons. It is the gladiators’ arena, whereby we find out of we are strong, or brave, or worthy of praise. We hope that in forcing ourselves to face ourselves, we can make these dark places go away. That we will become better people.

And the hard part about it is that sometimes the demons win. Learning to come back from those defeats are often the hardest lessons we learn. And sometimes it takes a lot of defeats. But when we look that devil eye to eye, and he blinks, there is not sweeter victory.

XTERRA Nationals are in two days. Along with Frank, Stacey, Mike F., Jenn, Vergil and Scud, I am looking forward to testing myself against the best in our sport. Hopefully, when faced with those internal demons, I will prove myself, in this battle, to be strong, brave, worthy.

If not, there is always pottery class.