I hate running. Actually, I hate exercise. Yet, I do it because I know it's good for me. So, when I'm running (my exercise of choice), I try to fix my mind on other things so that I won't think about how bad I want to stop.
I've noticed that lots of people, especially women, tend to like to run with a partner, and that's cool. However, for me, I consider my running time "me alone time," and I like to use it to think, pray, meditate, philosophize (is that a word?), and come up with astounding blog posts. I also like silence when I run, which is another reason I don't want to run with somebody else. I don't even listen to music when running because I find it distracting from my goal of thinking.
Which brings me to my latest, and what seems to be recurring, thought during my last few morning runs. First, let me say that I run (jog, trod, drag my ass) around a lake (swamp) each day. I run early in the morning so it's quiet and peaceful. I can see and hear all kinds of birds and even witness fish jumping up out of the water (not sure what they're doing, but it seems to work for them). Yet, despite all the natural beauty, I approach that lake each day as my nemesis, the one thing standing in my way until I can go sit down. I face that .9 mile (don't laugh) circle of water each daybreak, knowing what I must do. So, I begin. One skeletal jarring stride after the other. My thoughts at this point: God, my legs hurt. Could that pain in my eye be a stroke? Was that gas or a chest pain? But these are not the thoughts I'm talking about.
At about the half-way point around the lake, I instinctively look ahead to consider how much farther I have until today's "race" is over. When I realize the distance ahead of me, I immediately feel discouraged or, at least, disheartened. The other side of the lake looks so far. Can I make it? Will I make it? Thinking about my future - even just the next 10 minutes of this run - makes me feel unsure, a little dreadfull, a little anxious.
So, here's what I decide to do. I immediately decide to look back, not forward. Not literally — I'd trip (that would be pretty) — but figuratively. I switch my mind to thinking not on how much more I have to go, but how far I've already come. I reflect on how, when I began this run, I was hopeful, optimistic, and focused. Keep running. How I laughed out loud when I passed that crazy bird standing in the lake on one leg — a feat that he doesn't even know he shouldn't, aerodynamically, be able to do. Keep running. How six years ago I couldn't have walked, let alone run, around this lake without feeling winded. Keep running. How I haven't stopped yet, why would I stop now? Keep running.
What? I'm finished? I've made it all the way around the lake?! I think a metaphorical lesson in life just occurred.
Just like my half-way point in the lake, I'm at the half-way point in life (O.K., probably more than half-way), and I can get a little freaked out when I think about what the future might hold. Too many unknowns, too many reasons to give up. So, maybe being future-thinking isn't always the way to go. Certainly, being "in the moment" has its place. But I've discovered, too, that looking back has more purpose than I ever realized, or was willing to admit, in my goal-oriented, future-driven life. Everybody knows that reflecting on past successes adds depth to our experiences and helps to build confidence. But, I also think it serves to distract us from fear and insecurity so that we can (and will) keep moving forward. I never really thought about it that way before. Who knew being distracted could be a good thing?
Could you use a little "reflective distraction" in your life right now so you can move forward? It sounds a little counterintuitive, but I'm suggesting it just might work.