Running Through Life

Originally published 3/15/2016

I arrived in Sydney 2 days ago for a month long work rotation.  I wanted to give myself a couple of days to get settled and hopefully kick the jet lag.  On Day 1, I was productive, doing things like exploring my neighborhood, signing up for a membership at a nearby climbing gym, checking out the office, and picking up groceries.  I walked around a good amount but I didn’t exercise, knowing that after extended travel, the best thing I can do for my body is rest.  After a long sleep, I decided to go for an exploratory run in the area.  I checked out Mapmyrun and a few other sites to see if there were any good runs nearby, but didn’t find anything great.  I knew I was pretty close to the harbor, so I decided to head in the general direction of the water and see what I could find.

More than once during my run, I caught myself thinking, “I’m not lost in the sense that I don’t know where I am (thank you phone GPS), but rather in the sense that I don’t know where I’m going.”  I knew I was headed generally in the right direction, but more than once I found myself thinking things weren’t quite right.  Rather than getting frustrated about this meandering run, I would stop to appreciate the view of the moment and what it had to offer.  I took the picture for this post during one such wrong turn.  I reached a dead end, consulted the map, and sure enough, I’d gone off the trail I wanted.  Rather than chastise myself for not checking the map sooner, or immediately turning around, I stopped for a moment.  I reflected on the great workout I’d gotten by running up all the stairs to where I was now, and I looked over the water to a beautiful scene.  Eventually I recognized I had to back track a bit, and even got called out by some hikers I had passed who said they were experiencing deja vu by seeing me again.

One thing I noticed during this particular run was how varied my pace was.  At times, I was coasting downhill, enjoying a nice breeze.  There were times when I knew I was taking a loop or heading toward a dead end, but because I wanted to see what was out there, I went there anyway.  When I was running on a trail, I had to slow my pace to watch for roots and avoid tripping.  At some points, the hills were so steep, it took all of my energy and focus just to keep moving forward.  Despite my desire to keep running, I even had to walk at some points, knowing if I kept pushing myself, I could hurt myself.  Once, I even stopped to literally smell some roses.

How often does this running metaphor apply to life?  We don’t always know where we’re going, but it’s important to appreciate the winding path, recognizing that sometimes we will be running full speed ahead, and at others we will be going at a snail’s pace up a big hill or trying to avoid tripping on obstacles in our way.  Did my run take me where I expected?  No way.  Was it better than I could have imagined?  You bet.