A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cycles and the Decline of Things

Cycles upon cycles upon cycles. You see it everywhere. The day and night cycle. The seasonal cycle (winter, spring, summer, fall). The lunar cycle (full moon, new moon). Some cycles are very short, like a traffic light switching from green to red in a minute or so. Some are just amazingly long, like the birth and death of stars.

Everywhere you look, you'll see something in the middle of a cycle, yet we tend to look at things as static. It's one of the better ironies of life that some of us think we have the power to preserve the status quo. Keep things static. Make sure the next day is basically the same as the last few days.

They actually have a name for it. It's called the Normalcy Bias. Let me give you the Wiki on what the Normalcy Bias is:
The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.
So basically, one expects the same, or similar, things to happen each day you wake up, even though there are hints that something may be changing. This hint of change might be staring them right in their face, but he will refuse to respond to it until it's too late.

About 7 years ago, I used to perceive things in a static basis. I wake up. I run, I work, I eat, then I sleep.

The loss of a job back then forced me to change my thinking somewhat. I wake up, I run, but now I can't work, might have trouble eating because I don't have work, and I can't sleep because I might have trouble eating in the future.

So now I was faced with what I perceived was an "upset" to my routine. An "upset" to the static universe I thought I was in. What is perceived as an "upset" was really a normal change in a truly cyclical universe. In reality it was that the cycle involved getting the job, getting excited about the job, excitement wears off when the job involved politics, job turns to mundane existence when people know you too well and take advantage of it, then quit the job when the politics gets too great for you to function properly.

It happens all the time. But sometimes cycles can change so subtly that we fail to realize it's happening in the beginning.

I was finally forced to think differently, very differently, 4.5 years ago, when my youngest brother perished in a car accident due to a irresponsible drunk driver behind the wheel of another car.

My brother was no more. His life, just like everyone else's, is cyclical. He was born, he had a life span, then he died. Unfortunately, his life cycle was painfully short, compared to others.

I finally, and ruthlessly, found out that life is cyclical, not static. And I was forced to think along those lines knowing that things actually do change from day to day, if I was to concentrate on it.

From my family members, to people that I know, to society in general, the cycles were everywhere. And when I was forced to see things in cycles, life began to make a hell lot more sense then when I perceived it as static.

And I started to detect the subtle changes a lot easier than before. And those subtle changes have a definite pattern which can help decipher what the future has in store for a certain cycle.

Cycles help me to think long term when everyone else is thinking short term. It's enabled me to prepare for certain inevitabilities that will most likely to occur in the future. It's ingrained in my coaching to help athletes do well in their races, and it helps figure out some major decisions that I would have to make in the future.

And there are a number of troubling trends that I see now. On the macro level, society in general is now in an advanced state of deterioration, as evidenced by the massacre of little kids in a Connecticut elementary school. There are still some people who view life on a static level who think this, and other recent massacres, are just isolated incidents that can be controlled through legislation.

But I think more people are starting to realize that maybe this is just a symptom of a greater cycle of things. We, as a society, are in an advanced state of decline.

When people eschew their moral values of helping their fellow man out; when the family structure breaks down to the point where a man will shoot his mother in order to obtain a perverse goal, where mothers throw their own newborn kids into dumpsters because they don't want to take care of them, when kids nowadays idolize gangsters and prisoners instead of their parents, even when parents put their kids into day care centers because they are too busy working to tend to their basic needs, we have a breakdown in society.

Nero's Rome burned, not just because the Goths invaded, but its corrupted society's inability to thwart, or even care that their city was being invaded in the first place.


And, knowing the trend of this cycle, it's going to get inevitably worse. And no amount of legislation is going to put a lid on the massacres of the future.

Not until this cycle completes itself.

Everyone has been corrupted in their thinking of the world. You see it in the stock market, in government circles, and in the people you interact with. At this advanced state of decay, most of us are starting to find out that society is indeed insane. Nobody is thinking the right way any more. Everyone's priorities are all screwed up. Silly laws and rules are being passed that inhibit progress.

As a result, society's important functions are starting to shut down. No small businesses are being created. Those that still exist are having trouble and are in the process of shutting down. Big businesses are also in trouble and are slimming down to try to stay above water. Jobs are getting scarce out there.

And people are getting desparate. In turn, they start thinking irrationally to make themselves whole again. They seek mood altering medications to cure their woes. They seek government assistance when they are out of a job. as a result, more and more people are not being productive members of society any more.

The cycle will be complete when society finally collapses. Of course, people that are starting to see this will try desperate measures to keep it together. Maintain that status quo. Maintain that normalcy bias. But cycles cannot be halted. This one will definitely not. Everyone has been corrupted completely.

Everything has cycles. People have cycles. They are born, they grow up, peak, they get corrupted (age), and die. Companies have cycles too. They are founded, they rise to popularity, the get corrupted and inefficient, and then they fold. Countries are the same way. They rise to power, get corrupted in government, pass bad laws, then they collapse.

But the best part is that new cycles always arise from the old one's ashes. Somehow, when the cycle completes, the corruption that contributed to its downfall gets purged, leaving new ideas in its wake. And sometimes a new, exciting part of a cycle begins.

A lot of you in the near future will find yourselves in a deteriorating situation or environment in which corrupted, irrational thinking has taken over rational thought. It would be only human if you were to somehow try to help save the situation from deteriorating itself.

But the prevailing thought is corrupted. Too corrupted for you to make a difference. The only rational recourse, for your particular situation as well as society in general, is to prepare for the inevitability, then walk away and let the corrupted entity collapse. That's it.

Just.

Walk.

Away.

Let the corruption cave in on itself. Leave it behind and let it wither and die.

Only then will we start letting a new cycle begin and start our forward progress again.


No comments:

Post a Comment