What Am I Doing?

Observations from tonight's run
By Sol in Blog

There’s something about going for a run that never fails to clear my mind.  Perhaps it’s because my brain is starved for oxygen, but I think it’s more likely because I need to focus when running.  A myriad of choices present themselves at each and every step and I need to be focused enough to make decisions and act upon them just as quickly.  As a side-effect, answers to other things I’m thinking about during my run tend to present themselves rather quickly and clearly.  Here are some observations from my run this evening:

What am I doing?

I decided to run 3 miles up a hill that I had not run before.  I drove up this hill today and thought it might be fun to run it.  Oddly enough, it was a lot steeper than I remembered.  One-third (or less) of the way up the hill, I thought to myself,

“What am I doing?”

These 4 words encapsulated several other creeping questions:

  • Am I crazy?
  • Did I bite off more than I can chew?
  • Why did I think I could do this?
  • Should I just give up now rather than be forced to fail later?

This is a question that you must ask yourself when you are doing something worth doing.  If you don’t question your sanity then you’re not challenging yourself enough.

Simple as that.

The answer for me was simple: I wanted to prove to myself that I could set a goal and reach it.  Whether it be a short run up a hill or starting a new venture, I like the challenge of the unknown.  Sometimes I need to remind myself of this.

Don’t be afraid of shadows

I was planning to run on the other side of the street on my way back home.  When I glanced across the street, I noticed that all of the street lights were out on that side.  It seemed like such a stark contrast compared to the well-lit side of the street I was currently running on.

I would be running in the dark.

When I reached my turnaround point and crossed the street, I was surprised to find that it really wasn’t all that dark at all.

It’s interesting how things look far worse from afar, but when you’re in it, you often find that it’s actually quite nice.

Be prepared to stop

I passed my turnaround point and was now running down the hill.  Things were going great– gravity was my friend as I flew down the hill.  The hard part was behind me.  Then I saw a street sign that said:

Be Prepared to Stop

It was, of course, a sign for cars on the road, but nevertheless the words on the sign scared me.  I was going to have to stop soon.  I didn’t know how soon, nor did I know how abruptly it would come about.  Most worrisome of all, I didn’t know if I could stop with all the momentum I had behind me.

Not stopping could spell disaster.

In a broader sense, stopping, could be referred to an “abrupt change in direction”.  In our projects, goals, and life we don’t know when we may have to change direction.  Often enough, these changes come upon us quickly and without warning.  The only thing we can do to prepare for this is to be open to change.

The momentum doesn’t have to die when directions (or circumstances) change– we can let it carry us on our new heading as long as we don’t fight the change.

Don’t look back

As I was coming to the foot of the hill, I heard a sound behind me.  Was a dog chasing me (this can be fun when it happens)?  Did I drop something?  Coming up ahead of me was a crosswalk right at an on ramp to the highway, and I since I was still running downhill, it was getting closer by the second.

Looking back when you should be focusing on what’s in front of you can be dangerous.  Diverting attention and energy to thinking about the past means that you have less to devote to the present (and the future).

Focus on what is in front of you.

I never saw if there was a dog behind me, but I do know it never caught up.

Run in the grass

As I neared the end of my run, I cut through a large park and ran through the thick, soft grass.  This park has great grass.  At the same time, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was cheating.  I was taking a shortcut by running through the park instead of running around its perimeter.  Worse yet, I was enjoying it.

I’m really big on not cutting corners, and I have to sometimes remind myself that it’s also important to enjoy the journey.  Focus too much on discipline and it’s easy to lose sight of why I’m running in the first place– because it’s fun and I enjoy it.

Don’t get too stuck on the “rules” and miss out on all the fun along the way.

A Reminder

I write down these thoughts primarily to remind myself of them during those times when my mind isn’t as clear as when I’m running.

I did not accomplish all that I set out to do today, mainly because I lacked motivation.  I didn’t know why I was doing what I was doing.  I didn’t know if I would hit a roadblock in my projects (and thus be forced to change direction).  I thought about past experiences that were less than enjoyable.  Mostly though, I think I lost sight of why I’m working on some of these projects.  I was focusing more and more on just slogging my way through the tough bits to get it done, when I should have been enjoying the learning process and soaking up as much experience as possible.

Thus, I write these thoughts for tomorrow.