Bliss beyond blight

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 31 Oct 2017 10:10:12


By Vijay Phanshikar,

THAT’s special zone where only a few reside! As he stood on the shore of the Coral Sea on a very chilly morning, iconic swimmer Mark Spitz wondered if he could endure the cold waters. He was preparing for the Olympic competition due soon. He needed to gain an extra edge. He needed to toughen his muscles. He needed to toughen his mind. He needed that extra resolve. And, at that point, he felt that the Coral Sea waters were the best to take a plunge into to achieve his immediate goal. Even from the distance of a few feet, Spitz could feel the knifey coldness of the waters.

As he dived into those then-placid waters, Mark Spitz was stung by the coldness he could hardly
fathom from outside. He swam on and on -- for hours -- back and forth, pushing himself the hardest, driving himself nuts to dizzying action. His body ached, his arms refused to propel, his legs wanted to freeze into a warm blanket, his mind screamed for relief.

He wanted to stop. ‘Why should I punish myself so hard? Why? What would I get -- just a couple of medals?’ -- he asked of himself. He was sick with cold and also cold rage about his ambition. It was in those moments of extreme pain, Mark Spitz realised almost all of a sudden that the pain was gone and he could swim without even a hint of it. There was no pain. There was no blight. There was only bliss.

Yes, sheer bliss! Bliss beyond blight!
In that zone, only the likes of Mark Spitz reside. It is an exclusive arena. Only the chosen few enter that place and space. That is a very small number. What Mark Spitz was fighting against was what is known in sports as ‘pain barrier’.

Pain barrier!
That is the wall one must penetrate to get into that exclusive zone. One must endure the intense pain -- in muscle and matter. One must outlast that pain-zone where every grain of the being -- physical and mental -- cries

“Stop it”.
In his book Deep Water (with Duke Savage), Spitz talks of those moments of intense pain. He talks, in effect, about how there comes one point when muscles no longer wish to cooperate and mind refuses to issue diktats and how one wants to get out and say ‘Go To Hell’ to ambition. He, and everybody seeking excellence in any field, calls it ‘pain barrier’. Spitz, like anybody else in any field, then admits, in effect, if one endures that pain barrier, if one pushes through it, one arrives in a zone of total painlessness when the mind and the matter work in fullest tandem, in total sync, under total command of the seeker of the ambition, wisher of excellence.

This is everybody’s story, so to say. This is the story of anybody seeking excellence in any activity -- from swimming to music to sciences to arts to literature to painting to sculpture to dancing to riding horses to wielding the sword or to hurling a javelin across the ‘pain barrier’.
This is a barrier with multiple dimensions, of course. It generates in the mind of the individual a sense of helplessness, a sense of impossibility, a sense of nonsense. It gives way to an intense anxiety, an intense self-doubt. And in those moments when one hits the pain barrier, all one seeks is nothing but sheer comfort before the compulsion of pain.

Most people reside in this zone of comfort before pain. They do not wish to stretch themselves. They do not want to push themselves too hard. They do not want the sweat and the grime and they do not want the glamour and greatness beyond that pain barrier. ‘Hell with it’, they tell themselves.
But the Spitzes of the world break through the pain barrier. They do not want to wallow in the zone of comfort before pain. They seek the bliss beyond the blight -- of pain, of narrow thought, of the challenge that is waiting for them in the beyond-zone.

The human story, however, is never made in the zone of comfort; it is written in the zone of bliss beyond blight. It is scripted only when one has brazened through the barrier of intense, unbearable, unforgettable pain. The story of human greatness germinates when one decides to debunk the thought of pain and punctures the seemingly impregnable wall of one’s own weaknesses and one’s own limitations.

The pain barrier, as everybody who has excelled ever realises, is the ultimate of walls that he has to demolish.
It is both, easy and difficult. But when one befriends pain, one automatically knows how to brazen through the barrier. And once he is through that wall, there is that sublime zone of bliss -- beyond all the blight of self-pity!