You know how you get an idea, like a flash, that seems so wonderfully perceptive at the time, but then, after digesting it for a while you wonder if it is really all that great after all.
Well, in the delirium of a swelteringly hot, ten-hour, 110 kilometer ride featuring illness, wind, and hills I had one of those thoughts. I want to run it past you folks before I actually write a story about it… no, that’s not really true, I already have the story… I just want to know if the idea is crazy, or perhaps conceited, or just plain silly.
Anyhow, here goes: In the First World mobile phones allow us to get an ambulance in a flash. Hospitals will be there to stitch us back up. Police can be trusted to protect us from many of life’s uglier elements. Governments work fairly well at doing all those things governments do. Insurance provides a bottom through which we will be prevented from falling. All of it strung together becomes our social safety net.
Does the fact that this safety net exists limit us? Does it lull us into a (false?) sense of security so that we fail to use that part of our mind that allows us to push beyond what we believe to be our limits? Does it keep us from finding (or putting) ourselves in situations where we must push beyond?
Now here is the crazy idea: Is this ability - for the mind to push the body beyond perceived limits - something that is improvable. Does it get stronger each time we use it? Can that piece of our mind be turned on – activated – then get stronger much like a leg muscle. Can it atrophy when not used for long periods? And, most of all, is it a trait we pass generation to generation, and will it wither in our current risk-diminished environment like a primordial tail?
Have you had experiences while touring (or in everyday life) where you have had no other option and found yourself going beyond what you believed to be your limits? Is self-contained touring attractive to those for whom the ideas of self-reliance and “pushing beyond” are appealing? Does any of this feel right to you or is it just the results of an addled mind during an exhausting day of cycling?