Peleliu Island, Palau, South Pacific: Slipping my sandalled feet into the warm shore waters of Orange Beach off the south shore of Peleliu Island, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with sadness and inspiration all at once.
Yes, this is the very beach where on Sept 14, 1944, US forces hauled their courageous souls up the sand onto the shell-torn beach to oust the enemy in one of the bloodiest battles of WWll. It’s now returned to pristine peachy conditions, with verdant foliage, serene ironwood trees, and sparkling coral to create an ideal South Pacific paradise.
Not far from where I stand is the Memorial to all US forces who gave, if not their lives, their bodies or their minds in the horrific process known as land combat.
And as I’m always drawing allegories between real life situations – even those such as this battle – and our progress in all things health and fitness, here’s what comes to mind. Stay with me on this one.
Inspired and awed by thoughts of the power of the human mind when faced with the unthinkable and horrific challenges of war, I’m struck right between the eyes with wonder. What makes it possible for a young man to crawl ashore in 115 degree heat, amidst a hailstorm of bullets, and drag himself through the jungle with untold lbs of supplies and gear on his back, to ferret out hidden hostile targets? For 2 months? With comrades falling one after another around him?
And yet they persisted through extreme hostile conditions the deepest of challenges, prevailing to victory.
It literally boggles the mind and humbles the heart.
The power of the human mind
This tells you a heck of a lot about how the mind can endure, the spirit can prevail. And though it may seem silly in contrast (my point exactly), think about it.
We whine about how hard it is to change our habits from eating foods hell-bent on our bodily destruction to those that build health.
Or complain because we ‘can’t resist’ the bag of chips our family insists we keep on hand in the pantry.
What kind of ridiculousness is this compared to what humans have had to historically endure? It doesn’t matter if we say they “had no choice” or “that was more serious”.
The point is the power of the human mind is beyond borders. And at the risk of trivializing battle, here are some thoughts to take with you into your own courageous mission to improve your health, your body, your life.
9.9 times out of ten we avoid the slight discomfort that, if endured, would insure our success.
For 5 days on Peleliu, we rode our bikes 3 – 4 hours a day (see 21 second video clip of biking on Peleliu, complete with sounds of the jungle – and my rusty bike.) through the jungle pathways of the island, exploring hidden beaches and pinpointing the WWll historical sites – Sherman tanks blasted onto their sides and bomber plane wrecks twisted into the verdant foliage that has overtaken these moments of history over the last 65 years.
Usually hot and sweaty, we were often caught in downpours that inspired us to pedal on with one hand on handlebar and the other clutching an umbrella, while navigated the increasing slipperiness of the crushed coral roads. More than once we took spills for no apparent reason – my one-speed Huffy would skidded out from under me, spilling me on my side and pinning my ankle in the wreckage.
From then on I learned to pedal very slowly during downpours and sought out the rough patches in the road to
provide traction. If I looked to the smoother patches for a smoother ride, it put me at risk for crashing. Of course, the patches with traction gave us rougher ride – yet they kept me upright.
Likewise when navigating our daily lives, as we make the choices in eating and exercise that will keep us upright in our success trajectory, the more challenging choices of being prepared with good food each and every day, disciplining ourselves to our workouts and making other such choices critical to our success take a little more work, yet they give teeth to your goals and keep you upright on your fitness and body shaping journey.
Be the 1 in 100 who selects the pathway that requires a little more effort, a further reach, the rougher patch in the road. Think of them as the traction for your transformation.
Persist through the challenges. Prevail to victory.