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I'm Just Not Interested.
Editorial by Tom Demerly.

Tom in Desert.


In 1999 I tried to become the first person in the world to do an ultra-distance running race in the hottest place in the world and the coldest place in the world back to back.

I know, so what. It's a stupid thing to aspire to. It's an insignificant first, kind of like the first person to climb Mt. Everest with a huge ball of string on their back. But I wanted to do it for myself, I thought it would be cool for a long list of personal reasons. It wasn't for any record book, it was for me.

I did a race in Antarctica followed by a race in the Sahara a couple weeks later. It was really cool. I landed in the hospital for a few days, but it was worth it.

When I got back there were the inevitable questions: "How was it?" (Pretty tough sometimes, but a lot of fun). "How hot did it get?" (130 degrees). "How did you go to the bathroom?" (On the ground). What happened to your feet? (They got f*#@%d up).

Then there was the look I got when I told people, "The race was 152 miles… running, 152 miles." That was funny. They would try to process that in their brain, then think "Ahh, no one can run 152 miles…" and then just hit the mental reset button and dismiss the whole thing.

Then there were the worst ones: The ones that say, "I could never do that." I hate when people say that: "I could never do that." Almost every time they're wrong. They could do it.

I would have much more respect for a person who said "Wow, 152 miles of running sounds difficult, I can imagine it was unpleasant at times- I have no interest in doing that."

I can respect that.

I used to say, "I can't play golf." I can play golf actually, I just suck. I also have almost no interest in it, (except watching Tiger Woods, which is interesting since he's good). So it is more correct for me to say, "I have no interest in playing golf" rather than to say, "I can't play golf."

Ultimately our greatest obstacle is our own perceptions of what we can do.

We have no idea what our capacities are; we never even approach them. Did you know there was a man who swam across the Atlantic Ocean- non-stop? That's right, Guy Delage, a French extreme athlete. In 1995 he swam eastward from Africa's Cape Verde Islands to Barbados. He swam across the Atlantic pushing a little surfboard kick-board thing filled with his food, desalination kit to make drinking water and his limited communications gear. It took him 55 days to swim 2,350 miles. Have you read the book "The Long Walk", by Slavomir Rawicz? I won't tell you what he did; you'll thank me for reading the book.

The things these people did defy our concept of what is possible. They stretch the very idea of human capabilities. "I can't" was not a part of their mindset. So they did.

There are a million examples of people re-writing the books on what is possible. So when you say, "I could never do that…" you're wrong, you could. I did, you could too. You just might not be interested.

 

 
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