Guided or Drugged?

Background on this guy

I just finished watching stage 18 of the Giro d’ Italia (think the Tour de France but the Italian edition). The stage was held in the mountains, so it was a good one to watch with plenty of action. When the road tilts upwards, you either can or you can’t keep up. This becomes apparent pretty early on.

Today’s stage was won by an American rider named Teejay van Garderen. He rides for an American team called BMC. Double win. Bear with me as I give a bit of backstory on Teejay. He has been a rider who showed tremendous promise early in his career. Fortunately (or unfortunately) his career has not continued on the path it seemed it was on earlier in his career. Yes you read that last statement correctly, choose your word wisely.

The dream of many aspiring cyclists is to win a Grand Tour. These are 3 week long races that are the ultimate test of fortitude. There are 3 Grand Tours, the Tour de France, the Giro d’ Italia and the Vuelta de Espana. To win any one of these 3 would complete a career.

Teejay showed the capacity to win a Grand Tour. He had achieved results in the races leading up to them which are typically 1 week long instead of 3. Once he began riding in Grand Tours he showed that with time he would continue to learn and get better. The trajectory he was currently on saw him competing to win a Grand Tour in a few year’s time.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) this never happened. Teejay has been given opportunity after opportunity to fill the role of team leader and fight for a Grand Tour win, but to no avail. I will not get into specifics, but there is always something that throws him off and thus his chances to contend for the overall win after 3 weeks of racing.

Today is the Day

Teejay van Garderen won today’s stage in the Giro d’ Italia. He is no longer in contention for the overall win, but an individual stage win is a huge deal. This is especially true on a day like today where there was lots of climbing and many riders were looking to win on this particular day. In the post race interview Teejay seemed emotionless.

I know that I have eluded to Stoicism on this blog and some of you may point out that one of the principles of Stoicism is to keep emotions out of the equation. This is true, but my question is ‘why was Teejay emotionless?’ Unfortunately (this time it is unfortunate), I think I know the answer.

The Italian reporter that interviewed Teejay prefaced discussing the stage win with ‘we know that you came here with aspirations for the GC (general classification, which is the overall winner)but that did not work out’. You could almost feel his demeanor change when the reporter said that. Teejay was no longer thinking about his win but about the fact that he had blown another chance to win a Grand Tour.

Fate guides the willing but drags the unwilling. -Seneca

Teejay could not longer celebrate his stage win. He was too pensive on all of the other opportunities that did not go his way. Can we learn a lesson from this?

Things are what they are. We all finds ourselves in different stages in life because that is how it is supposed to be. How do I know this to be true? Because if it was supposed to have played out any differently it would have. It’s pretty simple actually. The quicker we can accept that the quicker we can think clearly about a course of action and move.

Things do not need to stay as they are, but what good is it to focus on questions such as ‘why am I in this position?’ Does it matter? You are and no one is going to come out and remove you from your present reality but you. Marcus Aurelius stated in his meditations “remember these two things: the action is important, the context is irrelevant”.

I hope to be wise enough to accept my current fate. That I would allow that fate to guide my actions. The alternative is that I try to fight against it, and thus I will be drugged against my own will, but will be drugged none the less. I personally would rather use my energy and resources to learn and grow from my circumstances and allow them to teach me something about how to best find contentment in this life.