That was the best way for me to sum up running. Freedom from the stress of my college courses. Freedom from the expectations of fraternity brothers. Freedom to just be.
Running under glistening stars in the dark of night was an escape, as well as an opportunity for self-discovery. Mile after mile, I observed the sights and sounds around me. I considered relationships past, present, and future, creating the visions for the man I would become.
While in college, I also wrote extensively, if you call term papers and reports writing. There was research and analysis, summarizing and paraphrasing. But there was little creation. Little reflection. Little freedom. Little of me.
It was only years later that I was able to discover the joys of writing. Without deadlines and expectations, writing became more like running. Instead of plodding through focused on accomplishing tasks and fulfilling assignment, I was freed to become an observer. Freed to listen and look. Freed to reflect and consider. Page after page, I was freed to create, and discover, the world around me, as well the person within.
Over the past several years, I run thousands of miles of roads and trails, and written thousands of lines of reflections and stories. I’ve stood behind several starting lines, and crossed dozens of finish lines.
Starting lines buzz with excitement and energy, but they also can carry the pressures of worry and self doubt. Lining up next to other runners can be a recipe for mutual celebration, but also an unhealthy opportunity for comparison. The open page offers similar experiences. The excitement of endless possibilities. Hundreds of different directions, or a plethora of new characters to create and explore. But the same can be said of pressures. The worries of not being able to weave your thoughts together. The haunting voice in your ear that attempts to diminish the voice of your heart.
The starting line is all about starting. Moving. Letting the race come to you. Letting the ideas flow. Trusting your training. Trusting your voice. While putting in miles along side of friends and colleagues, this is not time for comparison. It’s about running your own race. Being true to the story, and to our own voice. Being the best version of yourself in that moment.
Finish lines are glorious, when we cross them without the burden of expectations. My goal in every race is to finish. Give my best effort, and rejoice in the journey. Learn the lessons of the road.
Today, we cross the finish line of a blogging challenge. We ran many of these miles together, making new friends, and cheering each other on along the journey. We gained perspectives on this amazing thing we call life, as well as gaining new insights about ourselves. We cross the line together, building new relationships as colleagues and friends. We also cross it as individuals, with a growing sense of confidence in our voice, our training, and our direction.
Kudos to each of you on crossing the finish line! I look forward to seeing you soon, and hearing your stories out on the roads, or at the next starting line.