What makes a goal in life intriguing?
It is the chase.
On the track, the chase leads you to that sweet finish line. Or a 1:52 HM personal best. With the blast of an air horn at the starting line, the chase may morph into an individual – that friend who comes in first.
The chase could even be an umbrella wielding aunty who overtakes you at Reservoir Park after a set of 7×2 intervals. Her sneering look coupling with a barely audible whisper:
“Hao seh kia ah neh meh masih pancit. Ka pai tiaw zha jai.”
(Young man run so fast but cannot run long. Later injured how?)
To which we respond under our breath,
So we put our game face on. Unwittingly, we begin to position our lives and priorities to one singular purpose – winning that chase.
The emotions are there. Real, solid, and in most circumstances, intense.
Chasing brings a side of competitiveness that is seldom surfaced. The adrenaline to push harder, stride faster, your eyes fixated on the prize. The indomitable need to impress drives us out of our comfort zone.
In that single moment, we fixate only on one goal.
Chasing brings forth resilience. It pushes you out of the door on rainy days. It forces you to finish that last km after a hard and tiring day at work.
It is addictive. The more we respond to it, the more it intensifies. Soon, that elusive goal begins to develop into something more.
And this is where things can be a bit tricky.
For us to cope with this intensity, we begin to distort reality.
The chase becomes something personal. It changes the way you view others. The people around you become targets. You begin to compare your progress to theirs.
Friends become either tools to help you advance in the chase, or adversities who come your way of the chase.
The beast in you begin to take over. Every training session is a fight-or-flight situation. Your humanity begins to slip away, and eventually, you will morph into this lean mean killing machine. Lonely, cold hearted, vicious.
Am I making this up?
Training for ultras has brought me to the highest of ascents and the darkest valleys of the human psyche.
What I have come to learnt is that, there is a fine line between a chase and an obsession to winning.
And what guards those lines?
Spirituality in this sense refers to the submission of a higher power. The acknowledgement that chasing is not for personal gain, but for a greater glory beyond our understanding.
My personal relationship with God has prevented me (or at least I think it did) from going over those lines. To honour friendships, to respect distances, and most of all, to view chases from a whole new perspective.
Behind the chase of an elusive goal is a concrete genesis. Spirituality holds you firmly to your roots and your values. It keeps you humble no matter how big your goals are.
Like how my good friend Anne told me, it is not your achievements that make you who you are, it is who you are that makes you achieve great things.
Who you are is deeply rooted in those harsh beginnings. That is where your humanity lies.
As soon as you lose sight of your values and spirituality, things will unravel pretty quick and you may not even recognize the person in the mirror anymore.
The chase is something temporary. Eventually you will hit your goals. You trump your friend in a race. That chao aunty may miraculously join you for a set or two of intervals.
Just like how tools and equipments are put away after the job is done, the chase will be no longer of use and may soon be a fleeting memory.
At the end of the day, remember the chase is just a tool. Like plasters on your feet during a lsd.
Don’t let a tool change the person you are, but never forget the lessons a tool can teach you.