|September 29, 2023||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
I’ve realized the thing that connects all the enduring passions in my life. Running, riding, and music.
As much as I hate Hate HATE the panic and feeling like a broken melted worthless puddle of goo when it goes too far… I’m in it for the highs that come from pushing it almost too far.
I’m an adrenaline junkie.
*insert nervous laughter*
I’ve always wanted to be the person that loves adventure. As a kid that’s what I day dreamed about. Explore! Take Risks! Have Fun! But when it comes to RealLife (TM) I’m actually a killjoy that values safety, security, and predictability. At least, that’s what I believed was the core of my onion layered self. But yet….I keep saying yes to all sorts of *things* without a lot of coercion, despite being an angsty, what-if, let’s-constantly-think-about-the-future-and-the ways-it-could-go-wrong sort of person.
Why, the hell do I keep moving off my safe comfortable couch and do things that make me very uncomfortable and stressed? And spend lots of money and time to do things that I’m not even good at?????
Adrenaline obvious connection in my running and riding, two hobbies that should definitely be swipe *left if I truly value comfort and safety. I’m spectacularly unsuited for running. Yet here I am, putting in the miles decade after decade, and climbing on to the backs of horses over and over.
*Yes, I had to google which way you swipe on tinder, so I could appear very cool on this post, having married my high school boyfriend and the idea of dating sounds so horrible I would happily live single ever-after if he came to an untimely demise.
Running is easy. The truth is I’m in it for the runner’s high. I grind through the first 95 miles of a 100 mile run because that last five miles is sheer raw euphoria that I don’t get any other way. My regular runs are merely a bump to keep me going between races.
Horses? I’ve always been in it for the galloping down the beach potential (and the fantasy of perfectly organized and color-coordinated tack and stall spaces). So despite the crippling anxiety that rears its head over the years, I’m absolutely not content to sedately walk-trot around the arena or go on meandering trail rides. In my childhood fantasies I built my relationship with my steeds through adventure and speed, not carrots and scritches. Even after something like my accident earlier this year, I climb back on because after I work through all that messy stuff, the “I’M ON TOP OF THE WORLD FEELING” when I’m back to galloping across in the arena chasing a play, or powering down the trail ducking tree branches as both me and the horse navigate the trail at a reasonable clip, is so good.
Music doesn’t promise bodily harm, but thanks to a good dose of perfectionism in my music, my brain still treats music performance as a near-miss-disaster-survival-experience worthy of some feel-good-chemicals.
So while I can talk about the higher values of wanting to play with other people because of the community… the truth is that I don’t get the same high from playing by myself in the living room as I do when I play with a group of people. Just like I don’t get the same high casually riding or running at home, as I do pushing the envelope in a polo game, or running the last few miles of a hard-fought race.
I was this many years old when I realized that the good part (e.g. the adrenaline high) of the things I love only exists because there are aspects of those things also scare the crap out of me.
It’s like you crazy people that watch horror movies because you “like” to be scared. (I’m looking at you – mom, sisters, cousins).
WTAF. Why would anyone watch horror and “like” being scared?
I uhhhhhh…..I think I get it now.
So, what if I embrace this part of music instead of panicking?
When I think about running ultras – especially 100’s – I don’t tell myself that it’s not going to hurt. I make a plan that includes being really really uncomfortable at certain points in the race. I spend the first 80 miles staying out of the pain cave, all while reassuring myself, like promising a chocolate bar to a toddler….that at mile 80 I can climb inside the pain cave and stay there for as long as I can bear it. The most insane thing about the whole situation is that I look forward to it, to measuring myself up against the pain – to embrace it and learn to live with it when it’s time.
The problem is mental stress isn’t quite as predictable as physical pain. Even if running can teach me to embrace the bad with the good, it’s my horse back riding to gives me the most hope for my music.
If I’m kind to myself and just keep hammering away at my goals it’s entirely possible that some day a switch will just flip in my brain and all these thing that are holding me back will just be gone. This is what happens in my riding. There isn’t a gradual disappearance of the fear, one day it is just *gone. Just like I can’t imagine riding without fear when its claws are in my back, when the fear is gone I can’t clearly remember why I was so scared in the first place. It’s just….gone, and I’m ready to just do some crazy $h*^ on horseback.
*(at least until something really bad happens again that puts up another block).
Whether the secret is embracing the stress as part of the journey, or hammering away one practice session at a time with the hope that a switch flips, only one thing is for certain. I need to stop pretending that the fear and uncomfortable-ness in my music doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter. It just sweetens the experience of playing and performing music.
PS. I think I’m drawn to surgery and ER in vetmed because of the same pattern of seeking activities that come with periodic hefty doses of adrenaline. It’s also probably why every 3-5 years I feel the urge to turn over the table and restart my career to do something “different” — what used to be exciting is now boring and routine, just like hobbies that I pick up and discard once the initial learning curve is over. I can feel myself going through another cycle of “gotta do something different” at work, and the now that I understand this cycle, I’m trying to fulfill that desire using other things *besides* a job change. My current position is a good one (relief surgery and ER). I have lots of work, get paid well enough, and don’t have to expand a lot of my time outside of work to “catch up” on a knowledge gap. It is enough. If I’m itching for a change, I’m trying to channel that into hobbies or personal projects and NOT work.