The Perils of Easy

el capitan by connor-hegarty

written by john c ashworth

The perils of convenience and distraction.

Difficulty.  Challenge.  Messiness, and obstacles requiring your attention are the main ingredients of life.  The sooner you’re willing to embrace this truth the better. Yes. It took me awhile too.

The trouble is that we all harbor a sheer willingness to avoid this fact and focus on convenience, easy, and immediate gratification.  This distracts us from the journey.  In spite of the fact that the journey is where all the magic happens.

This makes me think of the free climber, Alex Honnold.  The dude is crazy to climb all those mountains with no ropes.  If you haven’t yet watched him, I encourage you to spend some time with his courageous brilliance.

Think of how focused he must remain on the journey to the top.  In every step, reach, pull, slither, or otherwise sly approach to the incredibly difficult obstacles along the way, there is an opportunity to lose focus on the journey and begin thinking about the top.  The destination.  The ultimate goal.  The fame and fortune that might await. In the case of the free-climber, this kind of distraction is unspeakable, because it leads to death. As I have heard Alex put it, “If I’m up there, and I start to think like that? Something has gone terribly wrong.”

Personally, I’m more than willing to admit that I could never overcome the fear I have of scaling the side of a mountain, ropes or not.  Nor is it something I feel compelled to do, ever. It’s not my thing.

Still, when I watch this dynamo and ponder his prowess, I discover an important truth about the journey and what it has the potential to create in all of us.  A very powerful and real connection to the present moment that is absolute in its ability to make us feel totally alive and free from fear, expectations, outcomes, and rewards.  Free from anything other than keeping our grip and staying connected to exactly what’s next.

Your presence on the journey demands your constant attention to the next step and nothing else.  

This is not to discount the kind of preparation and planning and meticulous care to detail that every important and successful journey must have possessed in it’s beginning.  That is essential.  But once that journey has begun, and you are hanging off the edge with no other way forward than your fearless attention to the moment, you are no longer allowed to stray from the force of life that is holding you to the cliff face.  

You are no longer allowed to pretend that anything else matters.

-John

photo by Connor Hegarty

The hurdles are daring…

written by john c ashworth

My daughter, Ana, has a shirt she likes to wear now . She picked it up at one of her track meets this year. On the back it reads,

“The hurdles used to make me anxious but then I got over it.”

In her case, this message cuts deep for reasons I won’t go into detail here right now. She wouldn’t want me to. She is getting over a lot of things and had a terrific freshman year of high school, especially athletically.

The Hurdles are Daring

Looking down the track from the starting blocks, hurdles line-up in orderly fashion patiently waiting their turn. Patiently waiting for each athlete to approach, building their rhythm, and their timing, and their speed as they breeze down the track. Nothing more on their minds then the next one, and then the next one, and then the next, until they are leaning toward the finish line in a flash of brilliance.

In some cases, you get the impression that those hurdles are coaxing them along. But it’s more than that. Beckoning might be a more accurate word. Because as they draw you in, it seems you begin to discover things about yourself that until now, you could not figure out how to unlock.

You discover that you are strong, and powerful, and not afraid to be called into the race. Not afraid to let go and trust your judgement in a way that places you so close to success and failure that your heart pounds with massive force until you are in the middle of that race, picking up speed, letting go of your fear, and allowing yourself to break free from everything that’s ever held you back in your life.

Because when you decide on this race, and its demand for your precision every time, I believe you have made a very powerful choice about who you are, what you want to accomplish, and what you’re willing to sacrifice and put on the line once you’re set in those starting blocks.

Never have I been in such awe of such a fiercely headstrong and competitive group of young women. They are relentless and humble in their pursuit and as much as I can, I learn from them.

-John

Ana’s 2019 Sectionals Race that qualified her for the State Meet in Wisconsin. Time: 15.9
Ana’s Wisconsin State Meet Prelim 100m Hurdles run. Time 16.4

Click here for WIAA final results for 2019.

Here’s what I hope the Ash Flash will do for you…

The goal of my weekly posts to the ash flash is to inspire you in some way. That’s the main goal. In fact, I read something this morning that reinforces this idea.

“…that a sense of curiosity and purpose , rather than the mechanistic drive for reward in exchange of effort, is the richest animating force of work.”

Bertrand Russel in his 1925 treatise on the nature of happiness

The challenge is in finding a pursuit that allows both forces to face each other in a liquid dance that keeps us moving and motivated. That’s what I hope the Ash Flash does for you. At least from time to time 🙂

We all need a means of staying connected and focused on the pursuits and projects that mean the most to us, and that as a result, foster our greatest contributions to the communities we serve.

I’m still working to find my exact way through this here on The Ash Flash, and I appreciate you being along for the ride as I work this out.

I have many good ideas about what I ultimately want to create here. I want to let those evolve naturally. In the mean time, my goal is to inspire you, challenge you, and help you unlock the courage to pursue your dreams. Both personally and inside your business.

You’ve got what it takes. I know you do. Keep going.

-John