Monday, September 2, 2013

40 Days to Better: Day 1

There is a phrase that many people still recite in preparing for a wedding: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.  I obviously had my own wedding many years ago.  And I don't expect any of my children to be having a wedding for many years from now.  But the phrase range true for me as I thought about what today means in terms of my first day of trying to be "better" over the 40 Days between yesterday and the Baltimore Running Festival Half Marathon.  The picture to the right shows something old (my last pair of Brooks Ghost 5 shows with the tread worn from 649 miles of running including this year's fateful Boston Marathon), my new running shoes (Brooks Ghost 6's--pair #1 with brand new treads), my tattoo (with its many borrowed scenes and themes), and something blue (circling back around to the Brooks 5's).   I actually think that the folk saying for weddings gives me a lot to think about over the next few days in terms of being better.  

For Day 1, let's begin with the easy thing--for the running--I was on the treadmill for two hours this morning--running a constant and flat 8 minute mile.  I know that some of my running friends would probably consider this to be a fate worse than death.  However, it allowed me to be sure of having access to a bathroom (although I didn't end up needing one), to monitor my water intake (I did drink more than 20 ounces that I could carry on my belt), and to not think too hard.  

Now, for Day 1, let's work on some of the more challenging themes. Let's begin with something old.  

The shoes are old.  Runners tend to get attached to their shoes.  I find that I (and at least some of my running friends) get even more attached to their shoes when they are used for a notable race.  I've turned most of my old running shoes into walking shoes until they deteriorate.  I am trying to think of what else I might do with this pair.  I don't have any really good ideas but I am thinking.  

However, it is interesting to think about why we get attached to the shoes.  Do the shoes really make a difference in how we run?  To paraphrase a book I am reading on personal success called "What Got You Here Won't Get You There," am I successful at running because of the shoes I wear or (as one friend might have me believe) despite the shoes I wear.  Should I stick with something because it isn't broken?  Or should I try something new because it might be even better?  What are the risks of trying something new?  Injury?  Not running as fast?  How soon would I know?  How long would it take to figure out?  What would be the consequences if I guess wrong?  Why is letting go emotionally and intellectually challenging?  

And how does this carry over into the rest of my life?  Are there work habits that are hard to let go even though trying something new might be better?

Are there parenting habits that kind of-sort of work but that another approach might be better?

Are there things about marriage that I could improve but might be scared to try anything different because what I am doing is at least sort of working?

I could go on with a list of other things.  But they all come back to the same question--why is it hard to let go, what is to be lost if I try something new, and how much might there be to gain?

I don't remember what I thought of the tradition of something old when I got married--in terms of the meaning it held.  If I were giving advice now, I would say that it has to do with the timelessness of marriage (at least as it is intended, that you can bring something old forward with you) but also a sign of letting go and moving on from things in the past and starting anew.  Have the something old, but be willing to leave it--no matter how strongly it pulls--after the wedding so that things can be fresh and new.

My running shoes show one thing--I do appreciate the timelessness of a good run, I still have a hard time letting go of things in the past that might be better left in the past, and I am not one to take many risks with trying new things (at least in some areas of my life).  What will help to make me better after these 40 Days is grappling with the questions that arise--how can I carry the timelessness to other parts of my life, how can I learn to let go when necessary, and when is it a good thing to take risks.  I certainly have in the past year (like the new job and a renewed focus on family--although the latter is only a risk to my career which should be second anyway), but I don't always.  

A lot of the answer is balance.  Always has been and always will be.

But part of the struggle over the remainder of the 40 days and the remainder of my life is how to achieve that balance and how it shifts over time. 

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