This week’s Throwback Thursday post comes from Chengdu, China. I left my temporary training base in Stellenbosch, South Africa, last Saturday, flew through Dubai to Tokyo, overnighted in Tokyo, and then took another flight to Chengdu on Monday evening. While it was a pretty crazy itinerary, don’t feel too bad for me. This was the view as our plane skirted the Himalayas:
This week we’re throwing it way back to the days when I was a huge Looney Tunes fan. Okay, okay…you got me—I still am! I bring it up because much of what I’ve experienced here in Chengdu reminds me of a tactic the coyote employed in his efforts to capture the roadrunner. You know that feeling when your phone says you’re connected to the internet, but then you log on and the homepage never loads? That’s kind of the way things are here. Our hotel has air conditioning, but the staff says the government will not let them turn it on. You hit the down button for the elevator, but it takes you up instead. The pool is just a little too warm, the food’s a bit strange, and there’s something in the air. No, literally, there’s something in the air. All pretty small annoyances that reflect differences from my normal environment.
If you add up enough of these small differences, one’s daily routine becomes a bit more unpredictable. You have less control over your diet, simple tasks can take a long time because of the language barrier, and you might even end up wasting energy walking around the wrong hotel floor!
Now back to the Looney Tunes. If you’re not familiar with the show, allow me to catch you up on the plot (it will only take a second)…
For some reason, the coyote wants to catch the roadrunner. He knows he can’t out-run him, so he resorts to deception (and lots of explosives) to get the job done. His plans never work.
Pretty much all of the coyote’s plots rely on deception to fool the roadrunner. Often the coyote is characterized as a terrible hunter, but I think he was consistently outplayed. The detail and inventiveness that went into his plots are what kept people watching the show. There were seemingly no lengths the coyote would not take. Even though the coyote worked harder, he never won. Just look at the picture below and try to tell me the coyote isn’t giving it his all chasing that bird. Yet, despite his lack of vocabulary (I think the only word he knew was “Beep!”), the roadrunner was fantastic at going with the flow. He—or she, it’s hard to tell with birds—readily adapted to the changing circumstances, consistently evaded his foe, and did it all with a smile.
The roadrunner seemed to heed the great Van Wilder’s advice, “Don’t treat everything as a life or death situation, or you’ll die a lot of times.” (Yes, Van, I wrote that down.) In the face of life-threatening adversity, the roadrunner had the presence of mind to adapt to the changed circumstances.
It’s amazing the difference a mindset makes. While operating on my unique schedule, one must balance unfamiliar experiences with the need to deliver a top-flight performance on race day. My big “breakthrough” this week came when Coach Paulo reminded me the opportunity to enjoy all these new experiences is part of the fun. It’s useless to superimpose familiar expectations onto a foreign environment, so you’ve got to go with the flow. I’m not sure how the race will go on Saturday, but I’m 29 years old and Looney Tunes are still making me smile.