Friday, April 23, 2010

Refusing to Stop

I just finished reading a story about Jure Robic, a Slovenian soldier who excels at ultra long-distance bike races. His races are characterized by mental instability, he frequently hallucinates and uses his hallucinations to motivate himself to work harder. It's very compelling to read the stories of how he and his racing team manage the intense demands that the racing exerts on both his body and his mind.

From Danny Coyle's article in the New York Times titled
That Which Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stronger:

In a consideration of Robic, three facts are clear: he is nearly indefatigable, he is occasionally nuts, and the first two facts are somehow connected. The question is, How? Does he lose sanity because he pushes himself too far, or does he push himself too far because he loses sanity? Robic is the latest and perhaps most intriguing embodiment of the old questions: What happens when the human body is pushed to the limits of its endurance? Where does the breaking point lie? And what happens when you cross the line?

The brain is a machine made up of hundreds of billions of interconnected neurons, and when machines are pushed to their limits they can begin to malfunction. This story make me wonder how much potential exists in all of us to push harder in our jobs and our hobbies, and what the cost of such exertion would be.