Gobi Desert: Exceptional Ramblings
Mountain Yurt and more Gobi Desert photos...
I’ve always felt that a human being who chooses to have varied and many extraordinary experiences and who is open to allowing those experiences to reflect on their life views is an exceptional human being. If that is true then everyone I met at the Gobi March event defined exceptional. That thought made me feel warm and hopeful inside. Kinda' like home base.
Yet we were competing in a race—definitive to be resolved at an ending place—a finish line. The meaning of the outcome of an event, the tangible result, the part that the world in due course rests their eyes, is open for interpretation by each individual. In a society defined by competition and results, the outcome is the ultimate and can start to take on a life of its own via media, judgment and gossip. Mature athletes know this. Mature athletes can separate from the result and broaden and blur their view to take in and assess the nuances of the journey. The exceptionalism of an event is the process. The people, the culture, the mutual understanding, the struggle and what it gives back.
Exceptional for me in an experience involves engaging in the unknown of the journey. Pieces of a journey such as in the Gobi, house the intimate and intense aspects of life—the crux. The journey and the choices we make in that journey are the portion that defines us as exceptional. The soul of an expedition isn’t about the summit or the finish line, it’s about the stuff that happens and the people that are engaged with prior to that socially interpreted definitive moment. When we come home to comfortable life stuff, we don’t necessarily remember the shit that went down or the ending place. We remember how we reacted to the shit that went down and we peruse our feelings around those reactions.
Terri in yurt camp 4...
I think people that choose to live in the crux are asking more from life than they even know exists, because the crux puts us in a tenuous and mysterious place—a place of learning—a place that isn’t yet defined. Some folks feel frightened in the unknown. For me and for many I met on my journey in China, the unknown meant freedom, possibility.
My strong female competitors were tough as nails, unforgiving in their pace and efforts and persistence. And yet at the end of each day, we smiled and hugged and shared warmth. Respect. Understanding. Support. Embrace of the unknown. We cared for each other. We were exceptional together because we could empathize with each other's struggles and support our vague dreams. Exceptional humanness at its best.
I am often asked why I do the things I do. The truth is I feel more at home sleeping in the dirt with others of like mind than I do in a man-made constructed world. The dirt makes more sense to me and I can relate to it more than politics, suicide bombings, counterfeit humans and socially constructed views of the female body, yada, yada, yada. And my compatriots in the Gobi found it just as absurdly freeing as I did. Dirt. Home base.
In the dirt we can create our own sense of self. Nature is indifferent to who we are. That freedom feeds exceptionalism. Exceptional people choose to run through the Gobi Desert and embrace the earth and despite my never having met most of those dirt lovers we will have a bond that is withstanding.
I want to thank my compatriots in the Gobi for sharing that paradigm of life with me, for nurturing it. People that I may never see again mirrored for me the value of my life choices, the value in pushing past limits, of not only moving forward when you are beaten down, but moving forward with distinction.
I want to thank those in the race that supported me after I was sick. Who believed, either through medical reality or pipe dreams, that I could come back and race to the finish. Either way they gave me hope and hope fueled my experience. I want to thank my compatriots for their irreverent humor, intelligence, neuroticisms, humanness. To be authentically human is an art. Endurance athletes seem to either get this and master it, or fall victim to its challenges—especially when they are several days sleep deprived and dirty. Thanks for getting down and dirty with me. I am the better for having met you all.