I knew they were crazy

Doug, Scott, and Jen constitute a group I call the “crazies.” Some take offense. I mean none. Really Sean and Steve belong in that group as well. They all get pleasure from finding the toughest, steepest hill they can and climbing it. Scott says he loves to suffer. He’s only kind of kidding.

I’m not interested in the pain. The hills merely get in my way. I don’t seek them out.

So, now Doug sends along this article which explores the mind of Jure Robic, ultra-endurance athlete. He’s won Ride Across America a couple of times and holds 24 hour distance records. We call this crazy. He calls it a job.

A few moments later, he says: ‘‘The pain doesn’t exist for me. I know it is there because I feel it, but I don’t pay attention to it. I sometimes see myself from the other view, looking down at me riding the bike. It is strange, but it happens like that.’’ Robic veers like this when he discusses pain. He talks of incomprehensible suffering one moment and of dreamlike anesthesia the next. If pain is in fact both signal and emotion, perhaps that makes sense. Perhaps the closer we get to its dual nature, the more elusive any single truth becomes, and the better we understand what Emily Dickinson meant when she wrote that ‘‘pain has an element of blank.’’

Read the NYTimes article.

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