We don’t choose our battles, but we choose how we fight them.

By Jennilyn Eaton

To say that any of us are in our current circumstances as the outcome of our choices is to look at a sphere and call it a circle. While our decisions are a part of the battles we fight, there is much more.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
— Henley

In a world of social media and photos, it seems everyone is running or training more than we are, playing more, is skinner, has more friends. We want to be the more that we see. The battles behind the images – that some are posted days or weeks later, or were from a 30 min jaunt, etc tend to make us believe that we’re missing something – we can’t attain what we see.

Some of our battles are unseen – some of our battles are internal – depression, anxiety, abuse, parents or family members requiring our constant care. Other battles are visible – chronic sickness, injury, lack of finances, single parenting.

While most of us could wallow in the slop of our lives… “could.”

OR

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
— Henley

As athletes we are passionate, driven. Often our mountain time is our therapy, our social life, our refuge, our playground.

So when the snow covers our trails, we can’t do the sports we most love—what then? When we prioritize children, work, family, adultiness over play, and can’t attain the hours of mountain time we’d love to have every day… what then?

I’ve struggled with this a lot lately. It’s rare I have more than 45-60 minutes (including drive time) to exercise.  If I can’t train appropriately for Barkley, should I even bother? I could complain and wallow in this lack of time, primarily due to chronic health issues. “Could.”

OR

I can get vert on the treadmill while my kids do their homework. I can sneak in a 20 minute weight training session in between lunch meetings at work. I can take my battles, and I can fight back.

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
— Tennyson

We can take the storms of night, and know that whatever comes to break us down, will make us that much stronger. We can train to be stronger and faster than we were last summer, so when the sun melts that snow, we can fly on trails. We can take the lessons of circumstances and learn to speak languages of vulnerability, relating to others, and finding new perspectives and levels of kindness to understand how we did not know we could before.

Outnumbered though we may be in our battles, we can outwit, outfight, and win.

I didn’t plan on applying for Barkley this year. I gave up, lost in fighting health issues, tired, knowing I couldn’t train, not seeing a way to do what I did last year.

But as the clock continued to tick closer to my time window to apply, I started thinking about how I belong there. It is family, it is home. I didn’t choose to have the health issues I’m struggling under right now, but I can choose to train.

I wouldn’t choose to have some of my friends burdens, the burdens of life I wish I could lift. So many of these burdens we cannot share. But the battles we fight will strengthen us. sometimes we lose… The other day I was sick on the treadmill and only made it a tear-filled (and bloody cough-filled) mile before I had to call it.

That’s ok. I’ll get back on the dreadmill. Or West Grandeur when the time and health is present.

Whatever battle you’re fighting, fight on. When your enemies outnumber you, and your armor outweighs you, fight on. The strength you earn from this is yours to keep.

Know you can choose to fight your battles, to change your circumstances.

If you don’t get to pick where you are now, you get to pick where you are headed.

You get to choose that part.

Fight on.

phoenix
ascending above the valley below,
with the burden of life upon my back—
I do not resent the weight of gravity,
for the pleasure is in the work, not the slack.
I feast on incense and amomum
and drink from mountainsides of lilac.
like the sunset, I burn for a moment,
then I flicker, and I fade into black.
from the ashes of turmoil comes strength—
the summit at the end of singletrack.
while stars mirror the vain city lights,
the resolve of this phoenix is coming back.
it matters not the storms that rage,
the pains, the losses, or the bushwhack.
from these ashes I shall rise and take flight,
strength from rebirth cannot be taken back.
— je10

Keep up with Jennilyn on Instagram or Strava.

*Originally posted on January 28, 2017