Wake-Up Is an Endurance Sport, and You’re Uniquely Made For It

by ChrisPaizis  Dec 5, 2015
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From a very early age, we're fed a load of narratives about how life’s supposed to work, many of which don’t actually serve us as we get older. One of my favorites is this idea that we’re just around the corner from the land where it all works out. We just have to go a bit further, get this one more thing, and then it will all make sense. It will all feel better. The hard work will be over and we can all retire to the islands, or the mountains, or the land of milk and honey. It hangs in front of us like a carrot on a stick. It works to motivate us, to keep us going, until you zoom out a bit and see how it’s set up so that there’s always another corner.

This is what waking up is all about for me. It’s an awakening to reality. Zooming out and seeing the bigger picture. Realizing that the real land of milk and honey isn’t in this lifetime.

So then what are we doing it all for?

The other day while I was driving, a radio program came on where an author was interviewed about his upcoming book on long-distance running. As a runner myself, I listened with interest. Long before I found the world of OM, running was one of my main practices. While it can be a struggle at the beginning, something special happens when I hit flow in a run, with my breath and heartbeat and body all moving at optimal speed – some call it “runners high.” I had heard it suggested before that part of the reason for this high is that it’s a reconnecting with a more primal, ancestral part of our being. Something about running awakens a part of ourselves that is getting harder and harder to access in the modern world.

Biologist E.O. Wilson quotes former US National Champion Shawn Found on this very topic in his book The Social Conquest of Earth:

“When you experience the run, you regress back to the mandrill on the savannah eluding the enclosing pride of lions that is planning to take your very existence away. Not only that, but you relive the hunt. Running is about thirty miles of chasing prey that can outrun you in a sprint, and tracking it down and bringing life back to your village. It’s a beautiful thing.”

I had read this book a few years ago and kept this quote written down. When I heard this same viewpoint expressed on the radio program, I immediately dropped in a level deeper. Something about me felt more human just listening to it. The authors point was, if you threw a bunch of humans into the wild with no tools or technology, we don't have a lot of obvious advantages for animal-to-animal survival. We’re not the strongest, the fastest, we don’t have the sharpest teeth or claws. We do, however, have a less obvious one, and that is our endurance. He mentioned the scientific evidence that shows that humans were eating meat long before any record of using weapons or tools to hunt. Instead, as the quote above suggests, we would form a pack and chase the prey, running them down to exhaustion.

If this is indeed true, it means there is something deeply rooted in our genes to adapt us toward long-distance running, toward endurance, and toward connection for our survival. We are creatures that are made to endure and made to work together. We feel less than human when we are not met with a challenge that draws out that endurance or that calls for that level of connection.

We have created a society these days that carries a strong narrative of independence and instant gratification, but the truth is that those things are not what we’re made for, and as long as we chase them, we will forever have that feeling of unpotentiated energy in our bodies that OMers know as tumescence.

If awakening to our full human potential is about letting go of the narratives that are no longer serving us and stepping into ones that do, I can’t think of a better one to offer up. We are beings created for endurance and connection in all domains – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. It’s not about crossing the finish line, finding the solution, or understanding the meaning; it’s about experiencing life fully alive, in alignment with our natural being.

As Joseph Campbell says:

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

This, to me, is the beauty of this practice. This to me is the meaning of Orgasm. And to this, I am a most grateful human.

(Photo Credit: Danilo Almeida)