I am a girl who loves mountains, changing seasons, running, true backpacking, strong coffee, and knitting with high quality yarn.
When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.
The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott
Thursday, May 17, 2007
The first one is by William B. Latter from his story on "My most unforgettable Ultramarathon", and while it (the story) had little to do with regular lessons, I found the fist few paragraphs fascinating.
A life without regrets is a life that has not been lived, one without challenges, risks, or explorations. Regrets are the natural outcome of failure. Failure is the natural outcome of finding limits, exceeding them, and sometimes going too far. Failure, if risked but not sought, is an opportunity to learn, to try again, and to become more. Yet we question our failures as lost opportunities, risks that should not have been taken, and even as moments of weakness. These are the regrets we must accept when we risk failures. Regrets are not something to seek out. They are to be avoided. But they should not be shunned to the point of never risking a life with regrets. Winston Churchill said: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts". We might at times succeed, but life continues and challenges remain. We might at times fail, but chances for success are always present. Going on in the face of potential failure and regret makes us great beyond anything we could plan for ourselves.
Any runners who have gone beyond their limits, only to find there was no limit, knows all of this very well. Whether we are risking months of hard work to come up short of a personal best in a 10k or putting it all on the line in taking the chance of not completing a marathon or ultrarun, we always come out better for having tried and not succeeded than having not made the attempt at all. Running is a microcosm of life.
I do not cherish my regrets. Some nag me. Some make me unhappy. Yet if I take a moment to look at them, I see that there is much to be learned from those regrets and the risks I took that led me to them. For this reason, I appreciate them, trust them to teach me more about who I am, and rely on them to help define me and make me better.
And then there is an exert of Dr. George Sheehan book, one author who can be cited millions of times, but I found very interesting his following statement on humans - not runners necessary - as they are. The short story is about a play "A thousand Clowns" about a man Arnold Burns...you know, your next door neighbor, a "nobody", a regular middle class man.
He is everything the sociologists wring their hands over - the American male caught in a mesh of worries, still dreaming the impossible dream.
But Arnold Burns sees it differently. "You don't respect me so much (he tells his brother), you want me to be a hero...I am willing to deal with the available world...I am not an exceptional man and I have a talent for surrender. I am at peace. I am not one of the bad guys. I take pride...I am the best Arnold Burns".
Mediocrity, you see, is in the eye of the beholder. Arnold Burns is not half-way up anybody's mountain. He is on top of his own. He is the king if his hill. Anyone can be a success, he tells us, unless he tries to climb someone else's mountain. Man, no matter how mediocre he appears, is still the greatest wonder in the world...
Man is born to be a success. There are no failures in nature. Failures occur when our goals are unrealistic, false and too vague, when we have no idea who we are and where we are going.
The key then is to find your own mountain...The person can be complete or incomplete, but one thing for sure: he cannot be someone else...
And to finish these thoughts, here is a couple of phrases they made me think hard - from a book not only recommended by Craig, but actually sent to me by him, the book I should have known about better than he does, the book by Russian one and only Lev Tolstoy "Confession":
My question...was a most simple one that lies in the soul of every person, from a silly child to a wise old man. It is the question without which life is impossible, as I had learnt from experience. It is this: what will come of what I do today or tomorrow? What will come of my entire life?..Why do I live?
And while you (hopefully) ponder on some of the thoughts I shared, please think of me, Tom and Scott as we ponder same questions while trying to pick our feet over these mountains at Silver State 50M in NV/Lake Tahoe region.