“What are you doing? Is this seriously necessary? This wouldn’t be so difficult if you just walked instead of run. You already look great there is no need to go crazy here.” My conscious has a way of arguing with me for the entire duration of my runs. A constant battle of, ‘Yes we need to do this. (No we don’t) It’s healthy (We’re already healthy) and we will feel great after it is over (That is what chocolate is for). We need to accomplish this. (Okay fine) ’ Finally I can tap into a perfect sync with my mind, as the footsteps fall rhythmically, without an ache from the muscles, breathing is calm and relaxed, the machine is now running smoothly. A grace has set in and the push and pull have found a balance. Running is not the only example where this synergy can be found. As they say, life has a flow, you just have to find it. How? My recipe? Focus, failure, and patience.
With our constant bombardment of interactions in our now ‘highly connected’ life it’s almost impossible to stay locked into one particular thing. I can’t remember the last time I had dinner with a friend that one, or both of us, didn’t check our phone. We all have text messages to answer, emails to respond to, fires to inevitably put out, and worlds to save from catastrophe. Focus, too like running, are muscles you have to build, strain them, push out all the things that are trying to keep you from giving your time to one person, action, or commitment. All of these distractions are similar to the arguments on my run trying to keep me from my goal, one I ‘need to accomplish’. With this focus, and getting that machine to run smoothly, I find my conversations at dinner are more meaningful, my projects more detailed, my work communicated more effectively. This focus brings me to a new refined quality of life, one where I am actually part of the moment and not just seeing it go by as I check my phone.
Without this focus, and sometimes even with the machine running smoothly, there are bumps in the road; a stutter, a grinding, sputtering out of the engine, failure to complete the task at hand. While these times can be demoralizing, especially if I am getting passed by another runner who is more focused than me, it is that pitter patter of that person on my heels as they come up and go past that fills me with critical analysis of the machine. Why am I not going faster? What can I do to improve? Is this person really more effective at this task than I am? Questions I wouldn’t have had without the failure of not being the fastest runner out there. In these moments I have an opportunity for self-examination, a chance to take a step back and see the entire machine for what it is and how it can be improved. These moments of deficiency should be taken as lessons we can learn from and not as absolute defeats we can’t come back from. So I push myself harder, knowing I’m not the best yet, and through that lesson am able to become a better runner, a little more effective, little by little. If there is a way to make life's machine better, it is within these moments of defeat that the cogs that need change are made obvious towards an evolution to a more effective mechanism.
Refinement, failure, acknowledgement, refinement, progress, failure, refinement. These are not simple tasks, the process is long and arduous, and giving up to the arguing in your mind or the distractions constantly begging for your attention is much easier. With my running I understand this is not going to be a one day fix and then 100 miles marathons here I come! No, it’s a life process and commitment to patience with the machine that I am trying to refine into a balance worth attaining. I will have challenges I can conquer, shining moments in the spot light, but those accomplishments would be made neutral, unnoted, far too easy to give credit to, if it wasn’t for the focus, the failures, and the time spent having patience for this process that gives me the perfect balance to cherish my true victories.
- Cammi Bailey, Executive Administrative Assistant, Goddard Technologies