I tried a new spin class last night, and it was mega boring. It wasn't the motivational "You can do it! Let yourself go!" instructor who teaches on Monday nights and keeps things moving. It was a guy just leading a ride. He would give direction every couple of minutes but,what you did with your bike and your ride, was kind of up to you. Very difficult to stay motivated, especially since I'm tapering for the marathon this weekend.
In the middle of a moderate climb out of the saddle, I had deep thoughts. Brace yourself.
In college, I was about 5 units shy of a Philosophy minor, and suddenly I had flashbacks of one lecture in particular. How much of what we do is motivated by goodness, and how much is motivated by greed? And does it ultimately matter as long as we are doing good? (I'll spare you the id, ego, and super-ego terms because I'm fuzzy on them now.)
Let's put it this way. You sign up for an event with a group of friends or co-workers, and you are required to raise money for a non-profit organization. Your reason for getting involved could be:
1.) You or someone you know has ties to the organization, and you have a passion for what they do.
2.) You want to challenge yourself physically.
3.) You enjoy raising money for good causes.
4.) You want to spend time with friends and meet new people.
5.) Your friends convinced you to do it.
6.) You want to raise a lot of money so you can get rewards.
7.) You want to get into shape so you can fit into your skinny jeans.
8.) Your work asked you to get involved, so you decided it would look bad not to participate.
What I take away from all of this is that people are motivated by a fine mixture of selflessness and selfishness. There may be other reasons to get involved, but let's take this sample. There may be one person who's participation is 90% motivated by greed (#6) and 10% motivated by goodness (#1). Yet, there may be another who is 80% motivated by goodness, and 20% motivated by greed. Our motivations for good are, in my opinion, driven not only by what we think is good, but also what benefits us. If you are 100% driven by greed then you are a jerk. If you are 100% driven by goodness, then you are a liar.
The question is - Does it really freakin' matter where the motivation comes from?
On some level, no. It doesn't matter to the Susan G. Komen Foundation or Avon why you are raising $5,000 because every dollar counts. The bigger question is - does it matter to YOU?
Now back to the spin class. Why do people (including myself) take this class? Even more puzzling is the fact that this class had a bunch of empty bikes. But why? Is it because people need the motivational instructor in order to attend? Why does exercise have to be fun all the time!? Geez. Personally, I had to bail on another class with an instructor who kept telling everyone, "You are strong! You are beautiful!" Maybe some people need that, but I felt like she was patronizing me. Still a little encouragement goes a long way. That's probably why I write about what I do. I need other people to keep me going. I need people to know what I am doing, to tell me I'm doing a good job, to make comments on my blog! It makes me feel good. So, my exercise is partially motivated by greed.
Oh, but you say, "I just want to be healthy." Oh that's all? Why do you want to be healthy? It it really to perpetuate your life or is it just to look really good. I don't blame you for wanting to be really, really, ridiculously good looking. People who look good get treated better, and apparently they get paid more too. Oh so your healthy ambition isn't just a teensy weensy bit greedy?
So, I asked myself during an easy spin in the saddle, "Can you think of a time when a workout was completely selfless? Like a time I wasn't thinking about what to write about during a workout, or wasn't trying to show what I could do to those in front (or behind) me, or show off the latest race t-shirt?
Yes. I think so, or they were at least 90% goodness. I think those have been some of the greatest moments ever, and the moments that transcend all of the materialistic, greedy bullshit in this world. The times when I'm probably the most alone but the most myself and the most happy. No one is there to witness it, but I don't care. I maybe running like the wind, or just calmly swimming at my snail-like pace, and that doesn't matter either.
It's very zen. This must be what all of those yogis have been talking about. Maybe they are not crazy after all!
I believe that ever person's motivation for the goodness they put forth is different. It doesn't really matter where the goodness comes from (pure goodness or some greed), but when you really mean it is when it means the most.
If you completely lost me there, don't worry. Just think yourself really, really, ridiculously good looking.