In my bedroom, there’s a bulletin board that greets me each day. A year ago, it was filled with the possibilities of an exciting 2020 year. It had races planned and challenges to explore. It was littered with motivating quotes meant to inspire a winning body of work. It stood there as a reminder of what I was working towards and was my standard for success.
People often call me an “insane madman” for the running challenges I do. Although I’m aware it’s a form of opening up dialogue and connection, the very words create a barrier to relating on a deep level. Recently, I received a compliment that made me feel understood for the first time in a long while. It came from a friend who said, “you know, you’re a totally different person while also oddly being the exact same.”
There’s a clear struggle when going through change, especially when it’s a personal one. We find ourselves navigating unknown turf and using tactics we’re not used to. We hold onto who we were because it’s familiar to us and those around. However, this makes becoming who we’re meant to be all the more difficult. It doesn’t have to be so radical at the start either. Who’s to say that radical personal change is even the proper solution? Do you, or me, even know why we are struggling in the first place? The answer to big questions usually has layers of truth to understand that won’t be made obvious at first glance. If it is, then you should probably dig deeper.
I’ve recognized areas of my life that need more guidance, understanding, reflection and observation. All of which need time to marinate order to obtain even the smallest bit of truth from them. My relationship to partying and alcohol was the obvious radical change that needed to happen. But it certainly wasn’t the solution to the problem(s) I was facing. You see, I felt lost about who I was and where my place of purpose was. I wanted to belong and be accepted. We all do though, don't we? These feelings come with a whole lot of fear of the unknown. For me, I was moving through life with little intention to create something of meaning and because of that, I lacked a level of usefulness to the people around me.
My aim was off and yes, in a lot of ways I’ve changed over the last few years. I’m proud of that. I mean, I better be changing my perspective on ideas and people. That’s what learning is all about. It allows you to see your value in the world as well as other people’s. That’s a pretty good deal too, you know. The world becomes less about who wins and loses and more about how we can both win together. The words my friend spoke showed me that I don’t need to be someone that I’m not in order to be a better version of myself. I can focus my energy into mechanisms that open up who I am in a less destructive way by being honest and truthful about where I need the most help. It also proves to me that I CAN become the person I admire in myself without sacrificing who I am at the core. “Radical” change comes through dedicated and intentional decision making. It also comes with mistakes and understanding how well were able to handle them.
We’re all looking for more out of ourselves. We expect things and believe we deserve to get what we’ve worked hard for. Oftentimes, I have to remind myself that what I’m seeking for I already have. Natalie Babbitt wrote the book “Tuck Everlasting.” I’m sure you read it in grade school just as I did. It’s a book with powerful messaging on our perception of time and energy. She wrote, “Like all magnificent things, it’s very simple.” We complicate, then overcomplicate when things aren’t working in the manner that we hoped for. We seek to find the answers to our problems opposed to understanding them on a deeper level. It’s painful, I get it. What we fail to understand, what I’ve failed to understand, is that there really are no true answers that will satisfy our feelings of being lost. We must begin anyway though.
That one word, “Begin” is the only thing written on my bulletin board today. Without knowing where I’ll end up, I take the same energy that once made me destructive and put it into something somewhat useful. Running does for me what I seek to do in life, ‘move forward into the unknown with a positive attitude. I try and understand that the light at the end of the tunnel is not off in the distance somewhere, it’s within me as merely a reflection of my soul. The closer I become to who I am, the closer I get to that light.’ Harnessing that light from within creates a bond that no one outside of ourselves can take away from us. That’s power. That's the truth. Running has opened my eyes to a world that has much to offer to anyone who asks. You just have to be willing to begin.