So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Be. Here. Now.

"The message of rock n' roll? Be. Here. Now." - John Lennon (ca. 1973)

Word of warning, this might be a little too cosmic for the average runner. So, top off your coffee & take a couple of deep breaths before you read on.

Okay, I guess I can continue: So, I was running late, as usual, to work his morning. One of the last things I passed on the way out, after telling my wife & dog I loved them, was a little plastic & stone trophy. This little turkey with backward-turned baseball cap & tennis sneakers was the newest addition to what people employed by my (other) employer call an "I Love Me Wall." If you've run consistently enough for long enough you probably have your fair share of gadgets, ribbons, mugs, glasses & plaques. Some of the road race awards I've earned don't have as much meaning as others do; because of the story behind the race, one or two cheap fourth-place ribbons tacked up over the doorway mean more to me than one or two of my heaviest first masters' male plaques sitting on the corner shelf of my "man-cave".

This turkey is one of those emotionally-significant awards, & not just another tchotchke: It's an age group high point trophy from a masters' swim meet. I had the sneaking suspicion my chances of doing well in my age group were good when I looked at the heat sheets. However, you never can tell until the scores are tallied & the results are posted. Actually, my friend - who was the meet director - told me I was going to win my age group just before my second-to-last event for the day. Was I pleased? If you are as swim-challenged as I, you would say "absolutely!"

My friend Brett Hollowell can explain this same feeling. Eight years ago, almost to the day, we ran a 5,000-meter road race together at Great Lakes Naval Station, just north of Chicago. Several things made the experience memorable: First, it was Brett's first (or perhaps second) 5K road race. Second, it was bitterly cold & overcast. Sleet & snow were falling. These were probably perfect conditions for Waukegan, Illinois, but the temperature was definitely thirty degrees to the south of comfortable for two southern-US-based educators-turned-trainees. When the race was all said & done, I finished high in my age group. It turns out Brett won his age group, much to our mutual delight.

As we drove back to our quarters, Brett grabbed his cell phone to call Meredith, his wife. He started to tell her he won his age group, as he was the only participant his age. I immediately stopped him: "Dude, don't tell her - or anyone - how many people were in your age group. You only tell them you won."

I think it was Steve Jones who said something about the difference between winning a race & running a world record: "To win a race, you only have to beat everybody who shows up on the day. To run a world record, you have to beat everybody who's ever run the race." All too often we downplay our accomplishments as a pre-emptive first strike of humility so others won't make light in an effort to bring forth humiliation. Personally, I think adding asterisks to our own results is wrong-headed. It's as silly as looking at results the day after a race you decide not to run & to say, "heck, I would have finished ahead of...'

If you aren't "here," where ever "here" is at that "now" moment; if you decide to sit & let life pass you by, you don't have the right to complain (like the realtor doing an open house in an otherwise-empty subdivision last Saturday, who called the local constabulary). In the case of the realtor, nobody's coming to visit because everyone decided their "here" was not-here (including Survivor H3, who were two blocks away) now.

Find where your "here" is, no matter what it is, & "be" there. Now.

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