Living an infinite life and what running has to do with it.

I wonder how many people on Sunday read the feature, “Words to Live By,” in the N.Y. Herald Tribune Supplement, “This Week,” and were struck by the value of the advice given to the boy who was panicky and floundering in the water. When the girl said, “Float, Jim,” he must have felt a little foolish because it was so obviously the thing to do. But as he thought over that advice, remembered how safely it brought him through the swim, and applied it to other situations in his life, it seems small wonder that he never forgot those two words.

When a busy businessman deliberately stops at moments of tension to look out of the window or to talk with a friend, or to drink a cup of tea, he is doing just what the girl told the boy in the water to do—relax, float, get over your tenseness, you will see a situation more clearly, you will have more confidence in yourself and you will give more confidence to others. Unconsciously, I think I have often followed along the lines suggested by those two words, but I will do it consciously in the future, for it is easy to say to oneself “Float, Jim,” and automatically one will do the rest.
Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ve had a lot on my mind this week, a couple events and prospective risks (not realities, but I so want them to be) have thrown me off balance. As always, I’ve landed on my feet and took time to run and meditate on the opportunities that have presented themselves.

What I’ve thought about a lot: how much risk can you tolerate? is it okay to fail?

The book, The Up Side of Down by Megan McArdle, couldn’t have fallen into my lap at a better time. Learning about the need to fail, and fail well, in order to grow is just what I needed to understand. I’m about halfway through, so I’ll wait to share a full review.

By nature, I love safety, security, and a long term plan. In reality, we all live with uncertainty at every turn. My immature visions of long-term security were washed away with this past recession, as they needed to be.

I’m no longer looking at things in life as finite, where there is an end to the journey and I need to win the race. Instead, life is infinite. I’m here to grow without a first place finish.

A lot can be compared to and learned about life from running races.

I used to question why someone would choose to run without purposely chasing a ball or around bases. Some question why run a race at all if you’re not going to win?

For me, training for a race is about the journey, as is life. The weekly runs and overcoming the roadblocks on the way to race day. Every race I run, I will not win, I know this.

Instead, the journey is the best part of the process.

When I stopped to think about all the failures I’ve had, they have all led to a stronger successes. I’ve failed in every aspect of life at one time or another. I didn’t allow myself to keep a fixed mind-set, but chose the growth mind-set at every turn.

Just as last year, I injured myself on the way to the marathon distance and failed to reach my goal. Now, I’m better off with the lessons I’ve learned about how to better take care of my body and mind. After running for 12 years, I’m still growing and learning.

Running is an infinite process. Always growing, learning, risking, and failing or succeeding.

Life is very much the same. I’m not here to win. I’m here to risk, fail, and learn and grow.

– kn –