Never save anything for the swim back

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First off, the line in the title isn’t mine, but I like it. More on that later.

I went running last night, for the first time in a couple weeks. I purposely chose a route that took me straight away from home. Just a ways down the road, a loop through the park, and back. Not too long of a run, maybe 4 miles or so, but more importantly (for me) no shortcuts back either. That’s where I get into trouble with the treadmill; it’s too easy to just stop and.. oh look, the couch!

The closer I am to safety and comfort, the less I push myself. That’s true of so much more than running. When we put ourselves out there, further away from our comfort zone, we learn more about ourselves and how strong/smart/determined we are.

Ironically, I always feel like I’m fighting my own nature. In the 10 years since I’ve become a homeowner, parent, programmer, I’ve learned that I can do much more than I ever would’ve guessed in my early 20s. It’s ironic (or just a psychological oddity) that while I am more than ever before capable of picking a goal and achieving it, I’m still so reluctant to get moving and do it.

I simultaneously recognize that the comfort zone is holding me back, while at the same time I really like the comfort zone. And.. and… what if I fail and miss out on some good quality comfort?

homer on treadmill with chair

It can be terrifying too, to get so far out in the water you could drown, so far into a project that you have to see it through to completion. I suppose that’s what people mean when they say to do one thing every day that scares you. It doesn’t have to be something huge, but just something that you can’t easily turn back from once you start.

That reminds me of a blog post by Charlie Kindel entitled Once I was Afraid. He lists things, some big and some small, that he’s accomplished. Now that’s a great exercise, especially when you’re feeling like you haven’t accomplished much. I keep meaning to write my own list.

The journey might not always feel good while you’re in it, but when you look back it is good. I felt good when I got back from that run last night. Beat, but good. It’s like our minds and bodies were made to be pushed to their limits. There’s a great feeling of satisfaction when we’ve identified a goal and reached it.

running first thought last thought

Two final thoughts:

  • The title of this post comes from a movie called Gattaca, a futuristic movie about the endurance of the human spirit. In the clip (spoiler alert btw), a genetically superior guy (the new norm) is absolutely befuddled by how the other (normal guy, now inferior) has been able to achieve so much in life, and go so far, when society says he shouldn’t have been. It’s a good movie and worth a watch.
  • I could only wish I had perseverance anywhere in the same galaxy as the guy in this movie.


Grant Winney

I write when I've got something to share - a personal project, a solution to a difficult problem, or just an idea. We learn by doing and sharing. We've all got something to contribute.

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