I took part in a lot of fun activities while growing up and I loved everything I did, but undeniably, running outdid them all. Running taught me some hidden truths about life. It was my first love. It was my meditation and my therapy. I don’t believe I cared half as much about the competitive aspect of track and field, as I did the way it felt during and after a race/work out; breaking through friction, running past what I thought was my limit, the feel of the rubber track under my spikes, the hot air surrounding my flushed face at the end of each set, lactic acid to turn overs, and the love/hate relationship with mega twos. Most of all, it came with discipline and lessons that could be carried into every area of life.
It was never about the competition, the medals, t-shirts, or prize at the end. It was about the two white lines on either side of me and the finish line before me. It was about owning the space that was given to me, and breaking the boundaries without ever stepping over the lines. I became a different person during each race, and it was almost a Narnia to me, a different-magical-world. I didn’t need words or attitudes to prove anything. I had an assigned space, and allotted time to give everything I had and leave my mark on that track. Win or lose, the exhilaration was … something inexplicable.
It was a glimpse, a passing moment, a short period of time that once lost could not be taken back.
I stopped running at 17, and didn’t follow through due various uncontrollable events. Nevertheless, life itself can be summed up in similar ways. You have a space and an allotted time, what you do with it will determine the mark you leave behind, Your legacy.
There are rules of course, as in racing also in life. There will always be rules. Staying within your white lines is a must, because the minute you step over the line you’ll be disqualified. I call these position, abilities/skills/talents and resources. Consider where you are, what you’re able to do, and what resources are available to you to help accomplish the best. Use what you have. Where you are is your pulpit. Not where he, she or your next door neighbour is. Stepping over the line is when you compare yourself to what the next person has and where they’re at. The minute you begin to compete with anyone other than yourself, you’ve disqualified yourself from the race. You’ve deemed yourself “not good enough”.
Rule number two is the allotted time. You only get one chance at life, however long or short it may be. In saying that you have to remember that there are principles to follow; a good start is vital, every second counts,and “slow and steady wins the race” is an absolute load of ****. You don’t have time to turtle your way through life. Think of a 100m dash. If you’re in the blocks after the gun is fired, pondering what technique you’ll use, the race will be over before you get into “set” position. Likewise, if you stumble at the beginning of the 100m dash, seriously, you’re screwed. (It is what it is, and I couldn’t think of better words). There’s a time and place to plan and prepare. I call it practice. It’s like studying before an exam, rehearsing before a show, editing before publishing. You do the prepping BEFORE the race, not during.
Three-but probably the most important one-don’t let anyone steal your destiny. Sometimes we lose out on important goals by allowing the wrong people/things/activities into our lives. If it’s taking a lot out of you, causing you distraction, and/or keeping you from achieving your goals, ITS GOTTA GO! If someone starts to get controlling, abusive and decides what you should and shouldn’t do, let them go. If they give you ultimatums between your goals/desires/destiny and them, let them go. You’ll eventually realize that they were the mistake anyway, so get rid of the distraction and fix your eyes on the finish line. It’s better to smile at your achievements than to feel nostalgic about a better time.
Last but not least, finish the race. Giving up is never ok. Whether you’re panting, crying, bleeding or crawling, you had better cross that finish line. There’s nothing more unattractive and uninspiring than throwing the towel in. Even if it takes you a whole day longer than everyone else, still finish. Finish what you started. That degree? Get it! That project? Fix it, perfect it, do it whatever it takes, and launch it. That book you’ve been half writing? Finish it. That goal, that passion, that desire that never goes away? Do something about it, make it happen. Don’t ever leave a talent untapped and don’t ever leave a dream on the shelf. Shoot out of the blocks and finish the race. As my coach Dagger used to always say,”Leave it all on the track!”
Now, runners to your marks… Get set…
Roja Ariel Douglas
-I don’t normally post writing like this, but I’ve already posted this one on my tumblr account, and since it was a spirit of the moment piece I went for it. Happy reading! :)