A Middle-Aged Jogger in a Big Pond
As a teenager, I was kind of fast. In my mid-20's I didn't run. Sometime during my mid-30's I tried to be fast. Now, in my mid-40's I know I'm not fast and simply embrace the fact that I'm a middle aged jogger.
For whatever reason Ive been thinking this week about my running career. It's sort of what Monday's post was about. Kind of. As an awkward, lanky 8th grader, my legs were significantly longer than most other 8th grade boys. This was to my advantage. I came in second in the state of Georgia in what would have been the equivolent of the 400 meter dash. This made me think that I was pretty dang good at running. I had dreams of the Olympic games and track and field glory.
When I entered High School I had a decision to make. 9th grade boys had caught up with me at that point (I grew early). I could run track in High School with one of the best track coaches in the country, but where I'd probably not win a race anytime in the forseeable future. Or ... I could try to repeat my 8th grade glory days. Who knows? Second last year. Maybe this year I'd be first.
I proceded to make the biggest mistake of my running career.
Skipping 9th grade High School track I tried to be the parabolic big fish in the small pond of youth track and lost on all accounts. I didn't have a world class coach. I was never able to move beyond that level of competition. I ran cross-country compentitively for two years. After that, I joined the theatre department and that was pretty much the end of my athletic career.
Now I'm a middle-aged jogger.
I was reflecting on this weird portion of my life this week. As a teenager I was afraid to invest in the loss. Sometimes I fall into the same thinking trap as an adult. We all want to win. But, winning can not be without the cost. In order to win ... to really win ... it is going to mean losing. It will mean failure. It will mean not being the top dog. It will mean coming in second, third or maybe ninth place. I was the kid who didn't want to wait. Didn't want to fail. I ate my marshmellow.
Being a middle-aged jogger now, I've had time to reflect on the foolishness of my youth. I'm not saying that I would have ever made the Olympic games, or anything beyond 9th place in the 400m. Long legs can only take one so far. I do wish I'd learned to fail earlier in life. It's really the only way to learn how to succeed - and to succeed in ways that go way beyond the greater world's definition of success. In order for one to create, one must fail. In order for one to fail, one must risk failure. One must work with people who are better, stronger faster and smarter.
Staying in the small pond isn't the way to grow.
I work in a big a pond, now. I am definitely the equivolent of a minnow. I have a lot to learn. But, speaking as one who once dreamed of Olympic glory become middle-aged jogger, I'm learning and growing. For that, I'm grateful.