I originally wrote this for my wife. I could have written this to myself a few times in my life. It’s something that I think many people could benefit from at one time or another. It’s New York Marathon week…which kind of makes it a fit.
THE INFINITE FINISH LINE
Like all great feats, finishing a marathon takes incredible effort. People train for months…pushing their bodies and testing their wills to gain nothing other than a ribbon and a sense of accomplishment. And afterwards, they’re saddled with physical pain that lasts for days, months, or even years. But to the real runner, that’s all worth it.
It is good to run. It is good to have a finish line out there somewhere and work hard towards that end. It is great to cross that line and celebrate the ungodly distance that you traveled. To relish in the afterglow of overcoming the obstacles you faced. To get that sense of pride. That sense of infallibility. The knowing that you can do anything you set your mind to.
Sadly, the celebration is brief for most, if at all…as most runners just keep on running.
Maybe they are addicted to racing. Maybe they are too busy thinking about their aching legs to notice that they blew right past their finish line. But most likely, with only a few miles to go, the runner pushed the finish line farther out. A process some runners do over and over again, creating an end point that gets moved further and further away…infinitely.
No matter how far or how fast you run, you will never reach an infinite finish line. It will only leave you tired and broken, and even after you have run so far, you will only get half way there.
There are millions of people running this same everlasting race. Where are you all going? Why are you all running? And where is your finish line?
In truth, there is no race to be won. There is not even a race to be run. There is no starter pistol. There are no fans rooting for or against you. No finish line to stick your chest over. Or commemorative ribbon to receive after it is all over.
Life is simply made up of a collection of moments. About collecting enough great moments to make great days. Enough great days to make great weeks. Enough great weeks to make great years. If you’re not filling your days with as many great moments as you can, what are you doing? What is more important than that?
Think back to the incredible moments in your life. Most are centered around times spent with the people you love. The day you met the love of your life. The first time your kid gave you a real hug. The best weekend you ever had in your life. You will never want to ‘just get through that next mile’ because you will want those feet and yards to last forever. And they can.
As for this race you think you are running, let this day mark the finish line.
Congratulations. Take a breath. Take a bow. Smile. The greyhound has caught the rabbit. You have nothing left to prove. No one left to impress. You can now just walk…softly and happily through the rest of your life. You have definitely earned it. You had a great run.
You should still run though. You should run when you want to clear your mind. Run because it keeps you healthy. Because it makes you happy. You should run because you love the feeling of wind in your hair. Or the sand at your feet. Run in the winter to get that exhilarating cold, fresh air in your lungs. Run in the spring to see flowers bloom, to remind yourself that few things are really dead, they just need warmth and nourishment to be brought back to life again. Run without a planned route, taking turns to always remain in the sunlight. Run at dawn to start your day off right. And run at dusk to appreciate the beauty of the sunset for as long as possible. Take short runs and long runs. Stopping simply and guiltlessly when you no longer feel like running. Then start again…when the time is right.
You need to stop racing…but never, ever, ever stop running.