October 30, 2011

The Beginner's Mind


I recently posted that wisdom is not a flower to be plucked. It is a mountain, and it must be climbed. The idea here is that it takes time, years even, to gain an awareness of the trail that you tread on.

I still believe this.  However I think there is more to this story. Yes, wisdom is gathered from real life experiences. And there is no substitute for experience. But I also think wisdom can be overrated. I dare say that for everything we gain from wisdom, we also lose something precious from it. Let me explain...

As I lace up my shoes for my very first ultra, my nerves are tense. My heart beats rapidly. Everything around me appears larger than life. The other runners. The glow of the rising sun. Before the race everything is ominous, every little detail surreal. I pin the number on my shorts, I drink a cup of coffee. I fill my water bottles. All these things, so monumental. Then I step to the line. More than anything, with a fresh mind, I think about the unknown...and the possibilities yet to come...  

Fast forward now. I lace up my shoes for my 15th ultra, my nerves are still tense. Again my heart beats rapidly. Yet everything around me has an air of familiarity. I chat with my fellow ultra runners. I glance at the rising sun. My thoughts are more focused, more disciplined. I check my fluid and salt supplies. I review my nutrition for the day. I know now what is to come. I remind myself of the mountain I’ve climbed to get here.

Zen master Shunryu Suzuke once said that in the beginners mind, there are always possibilities. But in the experts mind, there are few.

Stay fresh my ultra friends. Keep a beginner’s mind. And if your reading this on the eve of your first ultra, don’t forget to stop for just a moment. And remember. 

9 comments:

Rachel said...

great quote, and great attitude. thanks for the reminder!

Herbal Product said...

Very well said- 'Wisdom is gathered from real life experiences'. Life is a journey and we keep learning throughout from the talks we share, experiences we meet with, from others and so on. Change is the much required attribute of life and so is remembrance.

Trail Plodder said...

wise posting about wisdom!

Anonymous said...

Will , what happend to Evans blog ?

Will said...

Rachel, Trail Plodder, thanks for the comments.

Bino, I don't know what happened to Evan's blog. He probably to tired of blogging....

steady pursuit said...

I am glad I found this blog as I am wanting to get into the ultra scene over the next year. I stumbled upon going slong some time back and have been looking for your work again since.

Second hand wisdom never packs the lesson that learning things the hard way does. There are times I undermine wisdom with arrogance and risk taking and get to relearn lessons too.

Perhaps the greatest wisdom is realizing how much there is still to be learned as you suggest.

EricG said...

Enjoyed this Will. Always good to have a fresh outlook. Keeps things exciting. Peace E

Will said...

SP and EricG, thanks for those thoughts. Experience is what it all comes down to, but its good to keep fresh perspective!

Thomas Farrell said...

Great post Will. Really thought provoking. There is a lot to be said for an open mind and the wonder of possibilities.