Sunday, November 25, 2012


Ambiguity can sometimes be a very hard thing to deal with.  It makes my life difficult.  It makes me struggle.  It leaves me with no easy answers.

And yet for many of the same reasons, ambiguity can be a great thing.  Things that are hard to deal with make me stronger when I get through them.  Things that are difficult are there to be struggled with.  Struggle helps to define our lives as many of the best things are things that are had to struggle through.  Having no easy answers makes me think and think hard--which I enjoy.  I don't always come up with insightful or incredible answers.  

Ambiguity has much variability.  Sometimes the thinking is not for a matter or moments or hours but weeks, months, or even years to sort through something.  Sometimes the ambiguity is only a small amount and at first glance after which something becomes perfectly clear.  In other cases, there really is an ambiguity that lasts nearly forever.

I thought of ambiguity yesterday after my run.  It was an example of short ambiguity, thankfully.  It is interesting to ponder why there was any ambiguity on  day when I ran what will be listed as my fastest half marathon to date and on a day on which I brought home a trophy for being the first co-ed relay team?  Both of those are very happy things.  And for both of those unambiguous things, I am grateful.

The first ambiguity I think about was with my running--despite the positive outcome.  Did I go out too fast?  Did I think about it too much and look at my watch too much rather than just running what felt like the right pace (particularly slower at the start) and see what happened?  It may have been my best race but it didn't feel like a great race?  What lessons were there to learn even on the day when I had the best time I'd ever had at that particular distance?  How did I reach the finish line at my best pace despite feeling an incredible struggle in the middle and toward the end of the race?  How had my minor GI issue in the middle of the week affected my race performance? Had it affected my race at all?  What did it mean that I needed so much fluid after the race to feel balanced?

I always have to remind myself that on any given day we have to take what comes when we get our opportunity to run.  And to paraphrase my friend after the race, "All I can do is give the best effort on a given day."  And, in that, there was no ambiguity.  I did what I could.  It may not have been the smartest, most strategic, most satisfying race, but it was my best effort.

The team name indicates ambiguity.  The team name was "Who's the Mentor?"  A play on the fact that my teammate has mentored me about working with men in residential rehabilitation programs and who has mentored me about running.  And the fact that I have mentored her about public health professional issues and at least served as an one example of someone who has managed 20+ years of marriage with three amazing children for she and her husband who just got married back in September.  Perhaps an even more apt name for the team would have been "Who's the Bigger Mentor?"  Because clearly each of us has made an impact on the life of the other in the way the friends and colleagues can.  The opportunity to see how any two people interact can be an incredible revelation into how people teach each other and how people learn from each other.  Student and advisor.  Child and parent.  Husband and wife.  The ambiguity of the roles is an exciting and an amazing part of life.

The interesting thing about yesterday's vulnerability is that it was short lasting.  I can turn it into analysis.  I can learn some lessons and move on.  I can write about it and let it go.  Writing is often good for setting my mind free of an issue.

It is not spiritual ambiguity or ethical ambiguity or any of the really difficult things to deal with.

Instead, yesterday's ambiguity is something that was just a reminder of the many times and ways in whichI can learn lessons.  The many ways in which there is ambiguity.

The many ways that I struggle with self-criticism.

The many ways that I have grown and continue to grow as I understand what I have to offer and what my limits are.  

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