There are many things that draw us off road and nourish our individual needs. Life’s lessons can be refined and practiced with clarity as we move in nature. The variability of terrain can be both a challenge and an enjoyment. The roots, rocks, sticks that look like snakes but aren’t, rocks that are actually turtles and leaves hiding foot surprise surfaces beneath all help to sharpen our awareness as we practice finding out best line and navigating our way to our destination.
Like so many other things in our lives, having vision of where you are going and trusting your own vision is the key to success. This becomes true in a very concrete manner when we finding our line off road. We have to remember to not get hung up on the obstacles, but rather focus on the path through them. Your feet and your wheels can’t always go exactly where you want or where you think they should. The challenge is to hold your attention to the destination and be agile enough to ride the path given to you.
The intention of the feet and wheels is directed by the attention of the eyes and mind. Sight the line you want, not the obstacles in the path. The trick is to sight the line through, to visualize where you want to go. If you allow your attention to be directed to the obstacles of the trail, it is inevitable that you will impact the obstacle. See the line and the flow, then relax and go with that flow.
Timing is everything. On the trail, timing can refer to spacing. It does not matter if you are alone or with a group. From a practical aspect, you have to allow some space between you and then next person so that you can actually see far enough in front of you. Remember, the person in front of you is not really in front of you, they are just up there to clear the spider webs for you. This is an important job; no one looks pretty having an arachnoleptic fit (the crazy dance done when you unexpectedly run through a spider web that wraps your face).
Notice how far ahead do you sight and actively work on it. Is your tendency to look directly down or just to the next foot fall or next rotation of the wheel? Expand your vision to project forward. Don’t follow so closely that you blindly accept someone’s else’s path as your own. At the same time, you certainly want to learn from the actions of those that have gone before you. Choose what is good and serves your path, but allow the time and space to make a change if that is what feels right to you. Trust that your mind will remember what you have just seen and your actions will reflect your vision.
The key always comes back to a long clear vision. Stick with it, cultivate it, trust it. Each step along the way may be filled with obstacles, anticipate or unanticipated, don’t let the obstacles distract. Let the trail be a metaphor for cultivating direction and purpose, finding the balance between having clear intention while letting the flow come to you. When all is feeling good on the trail, there is a smooth flow for you and your line that can nourish the soul while reinforcing the applying this skill for constant growth in many aspects of life.
The original version of this article was published in Endurance Magazine, Off Road Issue, August 2016