It’s not a race.
More and more, we treat life like a race, like a sprint to some imagined finish line. We just want to get to the next thing, to be done, to get there. When we don’t get that instant gratification, when things take longer than we would like, we get discouraged, and want to give up.
Life is not a race. It is a journey. Most of the good things happen between the milestones, between the start and the finish (whatever that may be).
When I walk in the Susan G. Komen 3Day for the Cure, the start is exciting and invigorating, designed to pump us up for the journey ahead. The end is emotional, exhilarating, and is often an emotional highlight of my entire year. It feels so incredible to finish something so hard. But between the start and finish is the EXPERIENCE. The pain of all those steps is a reminder of the battles that people fight every day. The end wouldn’t be nearly as sweet if the middle wasn’t so hard. If I treat it like a race, not only do I miss the good stuff, but I risk injury (trust me!) Long journeys teach me that putting one foot in front of the other, ESPECIALLY when you don’t want to, result in the sweetest finishes.
Don’t get me wrong, beginnings and endings can be beautiful, heartbreaking and memorable. But they aren’t the only thing. When we focus on the finish, we lose sight of the now. If we focus on death, we don’t live. If we focus on being done, we miss the experience of doing.
So don’t forget the journey. Don’t focus so much on the end, that you get discouraged or miss something. Put one foot in front of the other. Look around. Slow down. Eventually you will get there, richer for the experience.
My new friend from Ireland climbed a mountain last weekend, and her post had a comment that inspired this. Someone else who had climbed this mountain was inspired by an old woman who noticed that she looked discouraged and said, “sure, you’ll make it. It’s not a race. You just put one foot in front of the other, and before you know it, you’re there.” (Thanks to Lois for the inspiration!)