I’m a runner.
I often get the question every runner gets, “Why do you run?” My response to that question varies depending on what state of mind I am in and how I feel. You see, there are many reasons why runners run. We run because it feels good during the run; we run because it feels good after the run; we run for better mental focus; we run for better health. We run to challenge ourselves, to stretch ourselves, to strengthen our muscles, and to lose weight or stay in good shape. We run because it makes us feel like we are invincible, and we like to feel that way. We run because we are competitive. Running is meditation. It is prayer. We run because we can; we run because we love to live.
As an experienced runner, I have run different races from 1 mile to 5 and 10k’s (3.1 mile and 6.2-mile races), and longer distances as well as half marathons (13.1 miles) in addition to running in high school on the cross country and track teams. There is not one single race that is the same as another. Every race is different: the distance, the terrain, the temperature, and the spirit of the race always varies. One thing, however, that is constant is the beginning and the end of any race. I know where to start the race I am participating in and I also know where it ends. What I don’t know is what is in between the start and finish lines. Sure, I could study the racecourse before I start running, but I really don’t know what I will experience before I actually run, step by step, to reach that finish line, nor do I know what is around the bend in a race, or in terrain I have not run before, but because my goal is to finish, so I keep running. I realized that when I have a vision of something I would like to accomplish, the same dynamics apply: I have to take it one step at a time and sooner or later, I reach the finish line. Running is like life. We are here to start and finish our races. Just like I imagine what it will feel like and look like crossing that finish line, we imagine what it will feel like and look like to accomplish our goals. It starts with a vision in our minds. We envision our goal and then take the steps to make that vision a reality. Like a runner who does not intimately know a racecourse but continues to move towards his goal (the finish line) by putting one foot in front of the other, we also reach our goals by taking small steps.
Furthermore, as a runner in a race, I have to be in the present, and simultaneously, I have to keep my mind on the end goal, the finish line, or my vision. When I stay in the present, I receive the gifts life gives me along the way and I enjoy the journey. If my mind strays from the present and from my goal, then I am tempted to quit the race. Of course, there were many races that I participated in where I wanted to quit, but I kept my mind on the finish line. I knew that it did not matter if I couldn’t see the whole picture (the whole racecourse); what mattered was that I kept my vision, with faith and courage every step of the way. Although I have crossed the finish line of every race I have ever participated in, there are some that I barely finished or finished injured. Those were the races where I was not prepared mentally or I doubted my vision when the rain, fog, snow, wind, or excess heat came forth. I learned that if I had not had my mind on the finish line, I would have quit running when rain or snow hit. When we set goals, problems might arise, but if we keep our minds on our vision, we will persevere through those problems.
Goals give us direction. Direction gives us purpose. Purpose gives us a feeling of well-being. Well-being is true life. Whatever your goal might be, do not be anxious. Instead, be in the present aware of each moment, and also expect the finish line. Know the end goal is coming, envision and feel your goal, and act as if you know, without a doubt, that you will receive it. Be grateful for whatever circumstance you are in while expecting your goal because this is your personal racecourse. Live in the present and do not worry about the future or the past. You might have some problems along the way towards your goal, but know these are only temporary roadblocks. Enjoy the journey. Be content. Be at peace. Know that whatever happens along the way happens to teach you something about yourself. Practice these things, and you will truly live.
“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” – Henry Miller