The repetitive movement of running sets a perfect stage for meditative serenity. The steady tempo of foot-to-pavement strikes in cadence with the sound of air filling the lungs and circling out again. In this mental peace, thoughts come and go freely- an ideal environment to absorb any lessons being sent my way.
On a recent, particularly hilly run, the world presented me with teachings so pertinent to my disposition at the time that it was clear that life happens with purpose- it is not all random. About two miles through, I looked out in front of me to a stretch of road that seemed nearly vertical. I felt a flighty sense of panic as I momentarily considered the options of turning around or choosing a different path. I suddenly recognized this defeatist attitude as a reflection of habitually quitting when faced with seemingly large challenges. As the past has proven, failing to follow through when things get tough only presents me with pangs of regret and self-disappointment.What would my life be like had I not cowered when obstacles obscured my visions? How difficult would it really have been to tackle the proverbial mountains in my way?
If I chose to avoid that steep hill by turning around or choosing an alternative path, I would have compromised my deliberately planned route. I would have robbed myself of the inevitable sense of pride that would have come from following through with my original plan. The choice was obvious as I realized that, amongst distracting myself with reminiscing and lesson learning, I had been steadily making my way up the hill, anyways. With the simple motion of placing one foot in front of the other, focusing only on the next step immediately in front of me, the hill that seemed so intimidatingly impossible at first was disappearing behind me as I edged towards the top.
Before the next song even came on through my iPod, I had passed the peak of the hill, my hamstrings and calves enjoying the rewarding downhill slope that followed. How silly I felt to have even considered changing my path, all to avoid a (relatively small) uphill stretch of pavement. It was then I realized that the (only) way to take on, tackle and overcome any challenge is to take it one step at a time. Any hardship has the ability to be paralyzingly intimidating when looked at in its entirety; but breaking the daunting hill down and focusing only on what is manageable in the momentstrips it of its debilitating powers, making anything seem 100% possible.