So what should I do? Quit? "No!" my mind screamed. "I can't quit!" The very thought of quitting was a horror gnawing within me. So I posed the next question: What can I do? And the answer came back from the hollow desperation deep inside my soul: I can still put one foot in front of the other, can't I? For once the answer came back--"Yes!" - Gordy Ainsleigh, founder of the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Race on how he made it to the finish line
I lost something important this weekend. It was a notebook containing over two months worth of school work, programming for an event that I'm organizing, and notes for a series of projects that I've been working on. It was the "If I ever lose this notebook I'm $%#@@ notebook". I bought a new one and began the process of rebuilding several months worth of work, seeing an opportunity to improve upon the contents of the old one that had I'd probably put on top of my car before hitting the highway. Whats done is done and the only way to move is forward.
While filling in the new notebook with ideas, rough drafts, and papers that I was now writing for the second time I started to think of how I might have reacted to a setback like this a few years ago...
A friend of mine who is an avid racer/runner went on vacation to Oregon last week. He went for the first run of his trip and returned to find the window of his friends car smashed and his gym bag containing his running gear, his phone, and his wallet had been stolen. He mentioned this in passing as he described what a great vacation he had running on the trails in the North West. Only one way to move-forward.
This made me think of the lessons that we learn through running, competing in races, and following the discipline of a training program and how they shape our attitudes towards the hurdles, large or small, that we come across in our lives Here's something that stuck with me and I wanted to share it:
When you run into a challenge during a race or a hard training session (a killer course that you weren't prepared for, the ice storm/snow storm/bone-chill cold of (most) Maine winters, realizing that you made a wrong turn on the course) you're faced with two choices-move forward or quit. There is no time to dwell on this, no time for self-pity,no time to complain. Abandoning your forward progress, even for a second, only prolongs the situation that you're in. You can either suck it up or give it up. Two choices. No in-between. Move forward or quit.
I think that this all or nothing approach to forward progress rubs off on all of us who push ourselves to the finish lines-both the ones marked with tape at the of a race and the ones that are waiting for us at the end of our goals, dreams, and desires that we will either reach, or abandon, when faced with the inevitable challenges that await us on the course. We'll either move forward-or quit.
I wrote this post so that I can look back on it the next time that I'm reconsidering putting one foot in front of the other and taking the next step when I know that I have it in me,somewhere deep in the reserves, to do so. And I hope that some one else who reads it does the same...