I can see it clearly. Two dudes slope side on a powder day. One dude just completed a McTwist on the halfpipe, and the other dude yells, “Bruh, way to shred the gnar duuuude!” That is your typical shredding of the gnar. Doing something sick, dank, rad, fucking epic in an extreme sport setting. Surfing, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and Prancercising just to name a few.
I am not here to talk about that definition, even though I have a PHD in that area, but rather something much more personal, dark, and real. Something that dwells within all of us, and drives us to do things we normally would not do otherwise. Sometimes awesome shit, and sometimes self deprecating shit; is there a difference? Scholars have known about this “dark creature” for centuries. New aged born-agains talk constantly about it. I personally have seen Tony Robbins live twice, read almost 1/4 of a Deepak Chopra book, damn near half of an Eckhart Tolle, and read almost the entire article heading on I’m not “Spiritual” I just practice being a blah blah blah on the Facebooks. I once meditated for like a month straight…for 5 minutes a day…while taking my shits. So I am somewhat of an expert on the deep inner workings of human psyche.
I am also extremely full of shit! What I am referring to is most commonly known as the Ego. The voice in your head that tells you that you are never good enough, strong enough, rich enough, happy enough, etc. I refer to it as The Beast (cannot take full credit as I read 2/3’s of an article once that talked about The Beast within awhile back), and I would like to shed a little light on this Beast I named “Gnar.”
People often ask me how or why I do what I do. The why I do it is for another day. I am here to talk about the how.
It all started about 10 or so years ago when I signed up for my first Ironman. I had never done a triathlon let alone and Ironman, so fear was definitely a powerful motivator. However, there was a stronger motivator that dwelled within that started rearing its head early on in my training and has stayed with me ever since. In the beginning it was a nagging voice going off in my head when I was reaching for the snooze button at 4:30am, “get up fucker. You need to do this workout.” It worked most of the time, but when the going got tough the voice got louder and more angry, “GET UP you lazy piece of shit! What’s the matter, you need your mommy?!” The insults got more specific, more vulgar, and more frequent as the training seasons progressed. They evolved from an alarm clock remedy to a swimming, biking, running partner as well. “Oh fuck you! You gonna walk up that hill you fucking pussy! Come on get moving!”
The voice was a part of my personality – insert some smart shit about Ego, Freud, & whatevs – during the years I was training super hard and trying to “race” the negativity of Gnar started carrying over more and more into my “normal” life. “You do paperwork like a __too hot for internet phrases___!” Even when I would be changing diapers, “Oh way to go ‘super dad’ you think Brangelina would be using store bought diapers…lazy piece of shit!” Gnar had taken full hold of most of my day to day. Mainly because I kept feeding it by being lazy, stupid, & slow…just kidding 🙂 It was being fed by me letting it be fed. I liked the “pep” talks. They got me going.
If I am suffering during a race and a perfect stranger says to me, “Looking good, you are doing awesome buddy!” I would most likely tell them to go fuck themselves. I respond better to sarcasm and locker-room-talk. “Nice shirt bro, those come in men’s sizes too?” Again, the main reason Gnar was getting stronger. Quick side note – when I say Stronger I don’t mean some Lifetime Movie where I develop a personality complex and end up in a bell tower. I just mean stronger in the truest sense of the word. Louder, more aggressive, and more fun.
About a year ago I had an epiphany while on a run. All this shit I was reading about Self Actualization, inner peace, and Mindfulness was telling me to destroy Gnar. Telling me that Gnar/Ego is awful, bad, and taboo. When I thought about changing my inner dialogue to, “Way to go Mike you are just so super terrific!” “You know what, you are tired and deserve to get some more sleep buddy.” “Go ahead big guy, have that cupcake for breakfast cuz you earned it.” I could logically only come to one conclusion, FUCK THAT!
I began fully embracing my Gnar. Instead of letting it drive me by using fear & guilt as the primary motivators I flipped it. “You gonna walk up that hill Sally?” “Fuck you” and then run up the hill a little harder then before. It became a training buddy that understood me perfectly. When there was no good reason for me to slow down, sleep in, miss a workout it would chime in and get me going. “I bet Lance Armstrong took tons of days off when training for The Tour…you sorry excuse of a human being. He did more with one nut then you will ever do!”
My friend is always there with an insult, joke, or jab when I need it most. Helping me go further, faster, and longer then I previously thought possible. Pushing me when all I want to do is quit in all areas of my life. It can dish it out, but at the end of the day I love nothing more then Shredding the Gnar!