Are you ready for our second week of December? It really feels like the calendar is running full speed to its end this year, doesn’t it? It makes me examine my own pace and ask myself the question: Am I racing too quickly to the finish line?
I recently joined the wellness council in my town and we hosted a 5k run this weekend. I spent most of my time at the t-shirt table but I also participated, along with my friend and our oldest daughters, in the 3.1-mile course. I was inspired and motivated by the runners as they prepared themselves to beat their best times and win medals in their age groups. Not being a runner myself, I had no hopes of winning any accolades, and as the race began, though I started with a hopeful jog, I quickly stopped kidding myself and found a comfortable walking pace. I want to say I was content with this decision, but my competitive side kept looking behind to ensure we weren’t last in the race. My friend joked that as volunteers we were ensuring the safety of the back of the group. I laughed, but there was a part of me that still felt the need to pick up the pace. When we arrived at the finish line, our daughters were there waiting and cheering us on. We faked a jog and smiled, arms raised, as they announced our names and took our picture. We ended up placing 20th and 21st in our age group. Our 8 year-old daughters, who arrived only a few minutes before, placed 2nd and 3rd! But the real winner that day was the 90+ year old man, who arrived some time after us. He placed 1st for his age group and received a standing ovation as he claimed his medal. I felt a wave of emotion as I watched him slowly rise up the podium. I thought about what kind of life he’s lived up to this point. How he’s had to watch his pace slow over the years and how even though he was no longer the fastest, at his age, it was his participation that was worth noticing.
Looking back, still feeling the soreness in my back and shins, I’m beginning to recognize how my own participation was my win. I really enjoyed the role I played in the race. Being a member of the wellness council and volunteering in an event that celebrates the physical ability of others and supports enriching the wellness of our town really lifts my spirit. My “best-time” is the time I am able to dedicate to others. It’s easy for me to be present in those moments and not worry about a finish line or what happens next. On Saturday, I just smiled, handed the runners a t-shirt and said, “Have a good run. I’ll see you out there!”
So today, I invite you to look at the week ahead, or today, or maybe even just the next five minutes. Think about how you’d like to spend your time, and what pace is comfortable for you. Is there a marathon you just have to run? If there is, then put your head down and go for it. But if you find yourself at a fast runner’s pace when you’re really only capable of a walk, then give yourself the grace to slow down. I promise you’ll still get where you’re going, and you’ll likely feel a lot better when you get there. Remember, the time it takes you to get to the future isn’t what wins you this race called life, it’s your participation in the present.
Have a great week, my friend. I’ll see you out there.