Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Imaginary Friends

When I was wee, I didn't have any imaginary friends. I don't recall if I was not allowed to, or if there were just none available. Before I got to school, I mostly kept company with myself and found myself in some great adventures; some of these adventures took me to places that even now, as an adult, I have not had the resources or the guile to revisit.

The one constant in these adventures is that I was always outdoors. You see, although family trips and vacations took me to interesting places, many of which did actually have an outdoors, my own day-to-day existence was one of being indoors, looking out.

I was always looking through a window or out of the bus, (we did not own a car), or even out an airplane window.  Outside were the great adventures that filled my young mind. In hindsight, though, they were more solo quests than fellowships (think Frodo on his own, without Sam...or Gollum).

I remember many of them. Some involved me singing or acting or racing through a storm. None involved other people.

As I entered school, I made some friends. Two of them come to mind. One I still write to, and another who, is but a link away...but a link never made. Again, contact with these friends was limited as, for my family, the outdoors was contact with anything and everything that was not within the family household.

As I got older, I made more and more friends and actually got to spend time with them. These were all of the real variety, although I did make one imaginary friend with whom I still correspond, a pen pal, a term I have often found more fun to say in German than in English: Brieffreund.

This is a triathlon blog right?

At this point in time, you may be thinking that you have stumbled across some errant post from FriendsReunited, or a quaint remembrance of nostalgic things past. It is neither.

But I'm not sure what it is yet.

Today, I read something that made me think of imaginary friends. Those who know me, or have read me before, hopefully, know that I have an imagination that is not bound by walls or bytes. My world is populated by imaginary people so numerous, that I sometimes have trouble keeping up to them. Ironically, all of these imaginary people are very much extant. They live and breathe and play and work and ride and race and eat and write. Oh yes, they write!

These imaginary people live, at least in my world, through the little photons, or absences thereof, on my computer and my smart phone screens.

What I read today was from one of these imaginary friends. Dame Ashley wrote about how to define a friend, and it got me thinking.

Dame? Yes. Ashley, like many of my imaginary (but very real people) friends is a citizen of Sufferlandria. I've written about The Sufferfest before.   Dame Ashley, like a small number of my friends, has accomplished a great act of endurance and strength that I can only aspire to...Sufferlandrian Knighthood. One day I will. Maybe sooner than I let on.

Sufferlandria It is an imaginary realm that is made up of very real people and extraordinary cycling training. It is possibly one of the best things that has ever happened to me, with respect to training. Being a Sufferlandrian has also helped me make friends with similar interests in not only cycling and training, but also in world view and with the understanding that, at least in my world view, an answer may just lead to another question.

I have also made many other imaginary friends. Some I found and  continue to find on Facebook and Twitter and some of the other social networks, some related to training, some too unsavory to publicly admit to.

Some of my imaginary friends I have had the distinct privilege of meeting. Some at races, some through travel and others, and they know who they,  have burrowed deeply into my brain and have made a cozy home there and are always on my mind.

Many of these imaginary friends also engage in training of one sort or another. Some are amazing cyclists that ride in legendary places that were part of my imaginary world. Others defy any kind of definition and conquer each and every challenge as if humanity depended on it. Still others don't blog or publicly write, but their words and occasional comments nourish my soul and motivate me to greet every day with a smile in one hand and a question in another (and to always, always embrace mixed metaphors and malapropisms.)

The most interesting thing about these imaginary friends, is that some of them are individuals that I knew as real people first. Some are even family! It is as if, through some kind of spooky quantum science they have teleported into another dimension. But unlike Rose forever bound on the other side of the wall, these friends come in and out of my day-to-day life. It is as if, somehow, my imaginary
world and my real life have merged. Who knows? Who cares! There is no doctor who can explain this.

It is these imaginary friends that this blog is dedicated to. They have continued to surprise me, to inspire me, to make me constantly question myself and my surroundings. They have similarly taught me to question with a critical eye that is not caustic and bitter, but rather filled with inquiry and wonder.

In August, I will be racing Ironman Boulder. This race comes after three successful Ironman Canada (Penticton) races, a near drowning and DNF at Ironman St. George and a cramped-out ride and DNF at Ironman Coeur d'Alene. I have not written significantly, if at all about these two events. I did write a little.

Maybe I was just burnt out about writing about training. Maybe I was just burnt out. What I do know, is that my imaginary friends, have rekindled an interest. Not in blogging specifically, but about training. About experiencing that vague feeling on the knife edge between agony and exhilaration that comes, not only with physical activity, but also in all parts of a life lived to the fullest.

I'll end it here, as I sense a group hug coming. Thanks to my imaginary friends. Both virtual and real.

You are all essential.


  1. A group hug? Really? I love you too, bro...

  2. Wonderfully said....I'm happy to think of myself as one of your imaginary friends


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