No Comparison

To use an overused metaphor, life is like a marathon.

It’s long, it’s grueling, and you’re surrounded by strangers.

But don’t worry, it’s not all bad – you’re also running.

But what you definitely shouldn’t do in life and in running a marathon is compare yourself to others.

You’re you. And there’s no one quite like you. So instead of falling down a hole of why is she running faster than me? why is he skinnier than me? am I falling behind? Trust that you are going on the journey that fits you. Trust that you are where you’re supposed to be. And trust, that everyone around you, for some reason or another, is cheering you on.

So, keep going. Don’t look back. And don’t compare yourself to others. Oh, and don’t trip.

Running and Crying

Two things you should know about me (if you don’t already know from reading this blog and assuming):

1. I am not an athlete. (I played sports growing up, but I wouldn’t consider myself “athletic” by any stretch of the imagination.) 

2. I never follow through in my personal life. (I have a million and one hobbies at home, and I’ve never finished any of them. I’m looking at you, five adult coloring books.)

So, if I told you that I’ve been waking up early to go for a run these past two days, would you ask if I’ve been abducted by aliens? 

Good, so would I. 

But I haven’t. I’ve just been fed up with how I look, feel, and look. So, for two days, I got up, put clothes on, and went out the front door before I was fully awake. 

And I know, two days isn’t a lot. But see point 2, above, ok? 

So, I was running along today, trying to will myself to keep with it and to go faster when I said to myself, “it’s okay, Bailey. Even if you don’t make it all the way, you accomplished something because you got out of bed to do this today. You’ve already won.” 

And possibly because the pollen has been horrendous and I couldn’t take a full breath without choking and my chest feeling tight, I started to cry. Which looks like I’m a member of crazy town to anyone who is passing by: a girl running slowly, crying to herself. 

But it had been so long that I had been nice to myself, that I had said anything encouraging to me, that it caught me off guard. It’s like when your significant other brings home flowers or does something unexpected to make you feel good. But for yourself. 

So, what’s my advice? Get up every morning and do something for yourself. Break your routine. But really, don’t surprise yourself with kindness, like I did. Practice it daily. 

And even if I don’t get up early enough to go for a run, at least I’ve accomplished something, by getting out of bed. 

You should be proud of that too. 

Sprint the Marathon

So, what are you? A sprinter or a marathon runner? Do you like to do dashes and race yourself against your own personal best? Or do you like to take long strides and conserve your energy?

Science will tell you that this is because you have certain types of twitch fibers, slow and fast, that make you either a sprinter or a long distance runner, not respectively. But to avoid everyone falling asleep during this blog post and giving everyone nervous flashbacks to high school gym class, let’s skip that part.

My question is whether you’re a sprinter or a marathon runner, are you always giving 100 percent?

I mean, think about it. When you’re running in short bursts, you may give the majority of your energy over to the task, but there’s still gonna be some left over, when you’re done and you slow to a walk. Same thing with a marathon. You’re going to stretch it out as long as possible, but it’s still likely that you can only give so much before you have to stop and keep some energy for yourself, just in case.

As you probably guessed, this is a metaphor for life (which should probably be the title of this entire blog). You can do it fast or slow, but are you really giving it your all? Are you really letting passion take over you completely to see that you reach your long term goal? Are you afraid to burn out completely, or are you scared to keep going and find that there’s no finish line?

It’s kind of like that weird adage where people tell you not to lay yourself down in your coffin all nice and neat, but encourage you to come in swinging and whooping and saying what a wild ride life turned out to be. Because it’s true. You shouldn’t rush and you shouldn’t conserve. You should sprint the marathon, and let the overpowering positive energy of each day move you forward and into the long haul.

Hello and Hey

I have not one, but two stories to tell you tonight. Keep in mind that both of these events happened over the course of one day (aka today) and both are true.

Here’s the first one:

There’s an older gentleman who runs in my neighborhood. I’m not sure how old he is specifically, but let’s say that he was probably able to vote for President Truman. (And in case you’re not likely to do the math, that’s pretty old.) Yet, I sometimes see him running twice a day and in every kind of weather. And he has time to say hello. Living in the time that we all do, I don’t always get a “hello” from anyone. Actually, I don’t even get the little wave when I let someone driving go before me. A “hello” is about as rare as finding a $20 bill in the mall parking lot. So, imagine my surprise when I’m going out to my car this morning, and I hear such a quiet, little “hello” from the man always running down my less than quiet street. I returned the “hello” and walked back in the house, grinning from the kind start to my day.

Here’s the second one:

I like to take walks with my mom at night. We walk a good distance through the neighborhood. We see a lot of people coming home, taking out the trash, turning on sprinklers. And we also see people speeding. We feel cars whiz by us, and the sidewalk always feels too narrow. But we make do, walking side by side, keeping away from the road. That is, until tonight, when some bro screamed “HEY” at us from his buddy’s car. I clutched my invisible pearls and jumped a little into the air. I looked up to glare at the passing car and heard both occupants chuckling as they sped away, gaining what, I don’t know, from scaring two women (as if men don’t do that all day, every day!). I was silently fuming the entire way home.

Now, as a reminder, both of these events happened in one day, today. One “Hello” and one “Hey.” But such different messages. One made me believe in karma and one made me wish for it.

For me, it’s hard to reconcile these events. How can people be so nice and so cruel in the same span of time?

And then I realized what I was confronted with: a physical embodiment of the human condition.

In short, there are going to be people who will go out of their way to be nice. And then there are going to be people who will think it’s funny to torture complete strangers. And sometimes, both reactions are going to come from the same person (although I would argue that what separates both people in this case is maturity).

But that’s what humans are. We’re this swirling mass of impulses, both good and bad. We have the I should say hello instinct, and we also have the let’s scream “hey” at these people instinct. One will always win out. Thankfully, both probably won’t win out in a single day in two different people, like they did to me. But maybe they’ll fight the same battle in you.

And as much as you can, try to feed the “hello” impulse. I, and your neighborhood, will thank you.