Recently I found one of my old journals written the months before I moved to Santa Monica, California post-college. Eager to review the thoughts I had at that time, I slid under a soft blanket on my comfy couch and poured through its contents for 2 hours. My perspectives, observations and desires amid my early 20’s were amusing, but more than that - often my words were … enlightening. One of the things that struck me was that I was truly navigating life with a compass pointing towards excitement about what was to lie ahead rather than melancholy about what I was leaving behind.
Later I let this concept swirl in my head as I sat on my balcony amid the evening’s crisp night air; I thought about the person who once inhabited my body fifteen years ago.
From time to time we all encounter things (obstacles, sadness) in our life that we don’t like but cannot change. I struggle with these things mostly because I tend to be a very process-oriented, success-oriented person. If something is going on that I don’t like, I fix it. I figure out how to make it better. The problem is, sometimes there really are situations over which you have no control. Sometimes, it boils down to this being the hand you’re dealt and you simply must learn to make the best of it.
And so I do. Or I try to.
Therein lies the struggle: I am not a “make the best of it” type of person. I am a vibrant, passionate person who lives by the MSH motto. (MSH = make shit happen.) I am not good at all with the paralysis of a situation of being able to do nothing. My personality has never been do nothing. My spirit has never, ever been passive. I'm Italian. :)
(If you haven't noticed this about me before now, I justify/explain just about everything in my life with "I'm Italian" regardless if it even relates to heritage or not. I love meatballs: "I'm Italian". I love red wine. "Yes, I'm Italian".
I like to ride bikes. "Well, yes, I'm Italian". I love the ocean. "Of course. I'm Italian". I hate to do dishes. "I'm Italian!" You get the idea . . . . )
A few days after reading my journal, in my attempt to evade a day of melancholy (thinking about what I cannot change and have to "make the best of"), I spent the better part of the day going 90 mph. I did almost every errand or activity in rapid succession. I did my reset run in the morning, making sure my last ten minutes were full throttle. I bolted through the grocery store, covering every aisle and paying for my half full cart all in less than 20 minutes. I responded to emails that were collecting mold in my inbox, my fingers flying across the keyboard. I mailed packages and letters that were stacking up in my office. I went to a follow up doctor appointment, driving fast, running late from trying to cram in one more thing on my way. I got my oil changed and even got my vacuum repaired.
At about 4pm I realized what I was doing.
And then I wondered how often I really must do this: avoiding things by trying to keep myself over-occupied. (All the time!)
I thought, subconsciously, that by going at warp speed I could potentially outrun my emptiness. But that is just like trying to out-swim a wave. It will either catch and carry you, or it will swallow you. The ocean is no match for mortals, and neither is emptiness. But, if you surrender to the wave, you will find that you can float.
I think as athletes we can be particularly susceptible to the misguided notion that we can outrun things by picking up the pace. This may be good race mentality but it’s terrible for the long distance training run called life.
I took in deep, forceful breaths… and then I wanted to write. I wanted to ask all of you if you were trying to outrun anything. Rhetorically, are you trying to go 90 mph so you don't have time to see or feel whatever it is that you don't want to deal with? Do you think that your speed will save you?
Where are you struggling to surrender?