How much can you stand?

I listen to Pandora radio all day. I love it, even though otherwise excellent stations (Dave Matthews radio, for example), still play some duds. You’d think it’d be no problem to just skip the bad songs, but Pandora is tricky, and only lets you skip six songs per day. With each workday lasting eight hours or more, one has to plan her skips accordingly. Say a Coldplay song queues up first thing in the morning. I don’t want to slit my wrists, so it’d be wise to skip The Message or Clocks or anything else by the bloody downers, but what if three John Mayer* songs follow this one? I have to skip John Mayer songs, because his music makes me want to throw things at people, but that’d make four skips in one fell swoop, leaving me with only two for the rest of the day….

Nope. Too risky. I’ll save my skips and listen to Coldplay. I can stand it.

But that conscious weighing—stick with bad or risk worse?—isn’t necessarily beneficial, I’m learning, when it comes to other things. Say I have a long run or an especially hard work out planned. If I know what’s coming, I immediately start calculating (unconsciously, I’m sure, because god knows I’d need to grab a calculator otherwise) how much to give, how hard to work, when to push it, when to coast. Some might say that’s a good thing, that pacing is healthy. But from what I can tell (for me, of course, not for everyone), pacing equals stasis, precludes improvement, keeps me down.

Sure, if I run like hell up the first big hill, I might not be able to make it up the next one, but who knows? Maybe I would. Maybe I’d discover an untapped energy resource.

The thing is, I only get to play (run or crossfit or climb or ski or bike or ride my skateboard or play in the lake with the dogs…) for about an hour or so a day. That’s not a lot of time, so why leave anything in the tank? Why not go for it when I can?

I think we all know what’s inside us, though, and I know that I just can’t. It’s not in my constitution. Not everything I have, not every time, even though when I do take the leap and try without imposing boundaries (I can’t climb that, I can’t lift that, I can’t run that fast…I will fail, so why should I try?), I usually surprise myself.

Moving from that place of known fear to unfamiliar ground is hard, but often, the abstract is far worse than the actual. To that end, I’ve been giving it a little lately, learning that I can stand far more than I give myself credit for.

And while the superstitious part of me is fighting to shout, “But I’m sure I’m setting myself up for a fall by saying something so bold,” the present, confident part of me is stifling her more than usual, responding with a calm, “Well if that happens, I’ll just have to pick myself up.”

*John Mayer has no business being on Dave Matthews radio IMO. It's akin to likening Vanilla Ice (bad) to Eminem (good).

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