Thursday, November 12, 2015

To Stay the Course or To Turn

"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading." - Lao Tzu
This post is not about running. It's more about what I am always learning FROM running. One day recently I looked up from the crazy life I've been living, took a deep breath, and realized that some of the habits I have quietly slid into are leading me in a direction I may not wish to pursue. This has certainly been the case for writing, or the lack thereof. There are other trends, but I will leave it at that for here. 

If you like where you're headed, keep going that way.
If you don't like where you're headed, change now or you are likely to find yourself where you never wanted to go.

I have been itching to write - for the past several weeks, months perhaps. Oh, I don't know how long now. And it's all getting rusty...Atrophying. Such a depressing phenomenon, atrophy. Like running, like anything, if you don't use it you lose it...I'm losing it. And what you do one day and the day after that, and again and again and again, becomes what you do. Who you are.
"Consuetudinis magna vis est" ~ Cicero
“The power of habit is great” and I suddenly find myself with some undesirable habits, while I've allowed some essential habits to fall by the wayside. Over the past several months the pressures of work and training and parenting and paying bills and dealing with big stuff going on with my family far away and travel and just so much busy-ness, which may be tedious or exciting, but both can serve as focus distracters - I'm feeling like I have a major case of ADD. These distractions slip insidiously into each day. And before you know it, they are your life.

For me writing, like running, has always served as a clarifier. A cleanser of the mind and soul. A detox. And I need a major detox. So here I am. I am setting boundaries, priorities, limits. The direction I am going is not taking me to where I want to be.

Okay. So that's life. Life is rough and tough and messy and rich and frustrating and hopeful and exhausting and innervating and enervating. Running is easy. So. I think I like the direction I'm taking in running and I will try to take what I do there and apply it to the other things. I will take what I do in running and apply it to life, easy-peasy. NOT! Habits, good, bad or otherwise, are hard to break and hard to develop. So, this (the act of writing this) is the second action I've taken this week to change my direction - the first had to do with setting some, baby-step, boundaries to nip some workaholic issues.

What have I learned from running that is life applicable?? Well, lots, but in this case I'm zooming in on one particular skill I've learned and developed over the years: Planning. Looking at long, medium, and short term goals. Recognizing that one can NOT do all the things one WANTS to do simultaneously, and accepting that some tough choices must be made - In running some goals must wait for another day, another year. What we do today sets us down a path, in a particular direction. We may not even know that direction until we get somewhere and see new options present themselves that we had not anticipated. Being open and receptive to opportunities does not preclude having ones eye set on something. The journey may be the point, but those who achieve great things don't do it by just allowing the fickle winds of circumstance to blow them through life.
"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." - Oscar Wilde
What we do is an expression of what we care most about. We may say: "I wish I had time to do X" but what we are really saying is that we don't really care about doing 'X'. We say we do, but our actions show what we really value. I keep saying, next week will be better. Next week I will catch up. Next week I will be able to do that thing I really WANT to do.

Next week never comes.
"Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about."
~ Sir Winston Churchill
We all need to choose the path we want to TRY to take. And, even if we don't choose an end, a path, an aim, THAT is a choice. We cannot NOT choose. And if we choose not to choose we end up traveling willy-nilly down a path to...where?  We know not. Maybe that's okay too. Maybe some want to jump at the chance to do things as they present themselves and see where that may lead.

Either way, plan or no plan, chances and options unexpected will reveal themselves. How you deal with those, though, may be important. Planning is not the death of spontaneity. But it is all too easy to stray down a path only to find yourself somewhere you don't want to be. Time to check back in with myself and do for my life what I have done in running.
“If you don't know where you are going,
you'll end up someplace else.”~ Yogi Berra

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