Updated: Feb 16, 2022
"Endurance." The word struck me like I was the bishop in Caddyshack or Reg in The Great Outdoors. I was in the gym, working out while listening to a fitness podcast. The guest was juxtaposing training for sprint and recover-type activities and endurance sports. Aaron, the host (https://www.alignpodcast.com/) responded that, even in sprinting, there is an element of endurance because every meal, training session, recovery activity and such contributes to how well one sprints.
FUCK!!!!! He was right. While I much prefer interval-type training over endurance work, life itself is an endurance event. Here's the thing, though. Who gives a shit if he's right? Why am I having such a strong reaction to this comment?
Instantly, I am back, sitting on a cushion on the floor in a comfortable furnished basement decorated with a combination of (mostly eastern) spiritual art and more contemporary trappings, like an Amazon Echo. My two, really wonderful guides are preparing me for the trip of my fucking life.
I have a great love for spiritual and metaphysical ideas. I even have hypotheses explaining how many such ideas could exist in concert with modern science. I want spiritual, metaphysical phenomena to be real. Here's the problem: In forty eight years on planet Earth, every person claiming some sort of clairvoyance, intuition, or other spiritual gift(s), has been entirely full of shit. That is until, I met these two guides. I am 100% certain that they are both the real fucking deal.
My beloved partner drove me to the appointment. We were early and decided to wait in the car, outside their house, until it was time for my appointment. Unaware that we were there, watching, one of the guides walked outside with their dog. He let the dog off of the leash and the two took off at a full-out run. Tall, lithe, and muscular, the guide's gait was a thing of true beauty - fluid and fast like a damned gazelle, he kept pace with the dog. No shit. I've never seen anything like it.
The guides were casual and hilarious, yet empathic and insightful. Before settling in for my session, one of the guides explained that my mother, who died in 1981, came to her the previous day to let her know that she was ready for me to do this work. The guide described working in her garden when she had a physical sensation similar to anxiety. She said that she sat with the feeling and determined that it wasn't "hers." "The closer I listened," she explained, "I came to realize that it was your mother."
Stop rolling your fucking eyes! I know!! I wanted to call "bullshit" with everything in me, appalled that she would exploit such a tender experience from my past, but I couldn't. I fucking believed her. I STILL believe her - completely. Unwavering belief in something like this is so unlike me. I can't really explain it (an unfortunate circumstance for a guy writing a blog...), but I completely believe what she told me.
Before beginning our session, the guide asked if she could "choose a card" for me. I agreed. She produced a deck of what I think were Oracle cards. I know she had me cut the deck a few times, but I honestly cannot remember whether I chose my card, or she chose one for me. For the purposes of this blog, I'll assume that I chose it because that's the way the universe typically likes to fuck with me.
"The Stag," she said, showing me the picture of a majestic, muscular, antlered deer on the card. The guide produced a book that contained explanations for each card. There was a story about a stag being stalked by a mountain lion for my card. When the lion attacked, the stag set off at a run. Although much faster than the stag, the mountain lion quickly ran out of steam, and owing to his endurance, the stag denied the cougar his stag tartare supper. My guides agreed, this card suggested that I consider the potential value of endurance in my life.
Looking back, I'm embarrassed by my responses. "I have asthma," "I've always been better at high intensity intervals than endurance," and a bunch of other bullshit that, mercifully, I can't remember. Everything but the truth, "I'm a big, fat fuck and I hate running."
Now, I've never trained for a real endurance event like a marathon or a triathlon, but there have been times in my life when I have had moderate endurance. I played soccer in high school. As a personal trainer, I taught eight spin classes per week. In the military, I would run a 5k every week or two. Every single time that I have ever built some physical endurance, my weight and blood pressure normalized, my asthma improved, my mental health improved, and my performance in jiu-jitsu and yoga improved. It very clearly benefits me, yet I resist it with such vigor. Why must I be so fucking dense?
After discussing the stag card, I took five grams of psilocybin mushrooms, and though I didn't move, I went bye-bye. As I lie there feeling loopy, there was a tear running down my cheek. No sooner did I notice the warm tear, I heard myself crying, then weeping. Before I could even wonder what the fuck I was crying about, I could hear myself all-out wailing with everything I've got. I distinctly remember thinking, "Holy shit!! Is that me scream-crying like that?"
Searching for an answer, I looked to my guides, who were both smiling the most beautiful, starry-eyed, encouraging and nurturing smiles I have ever seen. For some reason, that made me laugh. The three of us laughed hysterically, until I noticed a tear, which turned to crying, which turned to weeping, which turned to wailing, which turned to laughing. This pattern repeated for seven, yes seven fucking hours.
Although there was some visual funkiness, I did not hallucinate while on mushrooms. Despite all of the crying and wailing, I would not call this a "bad trip." To the contrary, it was an amazing experience. For the first time, I really mourned my mother, who died when I was seven - 41 years ago. I mourned my fucked-up childhood, sacrificed to violence and abuse. I mourned all of the joy and love and safety I was starving for, but never felt. I spent an entire day wailing without any shame, any need to quiet it, any thought that it had gone on long enough and I ought to pull myself together. I was just in the moment letting out a lifetime of sadness that had been held captive in my soul.
Since my guided psilocybin journey, so many things in my life and in my soul have improved. Yet, I wrestle with my resistance to building endurance (wrestling, by the way - NOT and endurance sport). I have recently begun working on it. Seriously though, a half-mile trot leaves me gasping for breathe, chest and throat burning, coughing, peripheral vision blurring, feeling literally like I might pass out.
The other thing that has happened since this experience is that my partner has performed several card readings for me and EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME, she pulls a card with a stag on it. Different decks every time, but every time, a fucking stag. Boy, when the universe wants me to learn something...
This gets a little "New Agey," but I think that I'm starting to understand the potential value of endurance in my life. I suspect that my absolute hatred of cardio training might be somehow related to the anger, fear and resentment which I have struggled to let go of for my entire adult life. More than anything, I think it's connected to the overwhelming, ball-breaking, absolute fucking exhaustion I feel daily. Exhaustion from my past that permeates every waking moment.
I have this fantasy. Really, it feels more like a vision or premonition than a fantasy. While running, struggling for breathe, as usual, I will get to a point where I finally cough up an inhumanly giant plug of dark, foul mucus and my entire airway opens up. Air flows freely through me. Fatigue gives way to boundless energy. My gait becomes smooth and effortless. Suddenly, 5k, 10k, half-marathon or more becomes reasonable, doable. My body devours stored fat and I become lean. Simultaneously, my anger, resentment, and sense of self-righteousness dissolve into freedom, joy and love - the very experience I relished coming out of my guided journey with my guides.
As I wrap up this post, I'm concerned that it sounds like I have this shit all figured out. NOT!!! It's more like I found a missing puzzle piece laying in the carpet. I have no fucking idea where it fits or how it contributes to the overall picture. I just know that if I plan to complete the puzzle, this piece is necessary. There is no question that I plan to embark on another psilocybin journey, hopefully guided by the two beautiful, spiritual geniuses who supported my growth the first time. Maybe I'll have my fat ass back to running 5k in under 30 minutes again by then. Whatever the case, I will write another blog post updating this one. I guess we'll see what happens.
Thank you so much for reading. Please feel free to comment, and please subscribe and share this blog. I appreciate you all.