My wife Jan and I are big Tour de France fans. From the onset, the tour has been beset with scandal and scoundrels, but I count the two thousand mile race across France as the most arduous sporting accomplishment possible. To complete this race that climbs mountains on will power and descends at sixty miles an hour on two wheels requires embracing suffering.
An online friend recommended “Hell on Wheels” a movie about the tour, and features two riders from the Telecom team who are past their prime. One a great sprinter trying to remain relevant, and another a climber as they face the hardship of this twenty-one day test.
Near the end, one gentlemen, probably a coach presents a soliloquy on the commitment to succeed from a small chapel in France that has been converted to a cycling shrine:
For me, suffering has two meanings.
Suffering can be negative.
If you try to suffer for its own sake,
that’s bad. That’s unhealthy.
There’s something wrong in your head.
But when you talk about suffering that
you must get through and you can
survive through enormous effort,
that is something else. That is positive,
good and beautiful. Beautiful because you
think of courage, of stamina, loyalty,
the willingness to make sacrifices, modesty and love.
From this perspective, the suffering during training,
during sporting competitions, while doing one’s job,
which all require great effort, is the same as religious
suffering. It is love. It is beautiful, I like that.
Delivered in French of course – so it is full of passion.
May you sacrifice and suffer with passion for a higher goal.