No words survive here, only echoes. Echoes of our hopes, of our plans, of our failures. What we thought we might do when we came here is little more than a shadow; it flickers on the walls for a moment and when we turn to look, it is gone. Doubts swell up and bounce off the walls until they become so loud they can no longer be heard.
Once we’ve entered, we can not return the way we came; the only way out is to descend into the darkness and through to the other side. When we emerge, we will breathe a new life, one where we are able to push a bit harder, and suffer a bit more. It is a better world, one with opportunity. One where we can make things happen because we have discovered a new limit of our will.
Pushing deeper into The Cave is learned over time. When we first enter, we will find ourselves in a small cavern with no apparent exit. As we train and explore its darkest corners, we discover a passage. We gather our courage and slip into a larger, darker cavern to explore. Beyond that, there lies another. Each holds its own unique strain of suffering, but with it comes also a degree of control; the choice to enter is ours and ours alone.
When I’m strong, my mind yearns for the cleansing qualities of The Cave. I feel almost the master of my pain, that I command its ebbs and flows. Even on days that don’t require it, I will hurt myself just to prove I can. When I’m chasing my fitness, however, I approach it with the same reluctance I had as a child when made to eat my vegetables. The suffering flows over me in waves and I am at the mercy of its current.
My training this summer has been erratic and unstructured. I’ve had some great periods, and just as I’ve neared a goal, either illness or travel unexpectedly reared up before me and interrupted my progress. A week away from the bike means another two weeks before I find myself back to where I was. Two weeks of drifting like a leaf in the current. Two weeks of knowing what lies beyond, unable to reach it.
Then the breakthrough, and into the next cavern. It is only through contemplating the darkest corners of The Cave that we discover its deepest passages and it is within the deepest passages that we may discover our purest selves.
Have courage and follow the path into The Cave. Vive la Vie Velominatus.