Thursday, November 13, 2014

Overlapping Lessons for Me and My Nine Year Old Son

Today was another “last” before the Philadelphia Marathon.  The last run planned as a progression run.  7 miles.  Started at 8:00 and worked my way down to 6:30.  Did it on the treadmill.  Felt easy enough that I decided to challenge myself a little more than normal at the end.  So, instead of just running the 7 miles with the pace getting faster by 15 seconds each mile, I did that and I made sure to increase the incline each quarter mile during the last mile.  With just an easy 4 on Monday and two 7-mile quality workouts, my legs are more than ready to go.  It has been wonderful to have a feeling of complete confidence in a workout like this.  Of course, I did not go outside to run—I didn’t like the cold this morning and the person I was supposed to run with had a good reason for backing out—but the treadmill work was just plain solid.  Leaves me with 10 days until the race.  Now at 1948.5 miles, with 6 more workouts to go before the marathon.  Getting ever closer.  Still pondering what I will do with my running after this.  Still don’t have an answer.  But maybe I don’t need one.  And I don’t need the pressure of figuring one out at this moment.

So, what else was interesting since the last entry? 

Three things.  First, I had an interesting discussion with a colleague about seeing the dots and not only connecting the dots, but realizing that there is something wlaw in the space between the dots.  I liked his vision of realizing that there is something else there.  I had never expressed it that way before.  It is sort of like not only seeing the stars in a constellation but also drawing in the entire “figure” around the constellation as illustrations of Orion and Capricorn or Ursa Major and Ursa Minor would show.  Or in a coloring book with connecting the dot activities to connect the dots and then color in the figure and add to the figure.  To not just make the connections but to innovate from them and to build upon them.

Second, I finally had an opportunity for my direct supervisor to find out about my tattoo.  More than one and one-half years of working under his supervision and finally a reason for him to find out—although most other people within the school know.  Having traveled to San Antonio (as I mentioned earlier this week), when I had my first one-on-one meeting with the Dean after I returned, he observed “no cowboy boots?”  I said, “No, not me.”  Then he ran down other things that he apparently associates with Texas including asking “No tattoos?”  I had not paused before any others, but I did pause before that one.  The pause startled the Dean, so he looked without asking, “Right?”  And I told him that I didn’t need to because I already had one.  He was taken by surprise but didn’t feel the need to ask why.  He assumed it would have been at an earlier age.  Of course, in reality it was finished just before I was offered the job. 

Third, my nine year old is worrying about things that he really doesn’t need to worry about as a nine year old.  Yesterday, he drew a wonderful picture of a dragon for a nine-year old.  He asked, “What should I do?  I like engineering [a reference to his joining a 4-H Robotics club], music [he takes both bass violin and guitar lessons and plays recorder well], and art [his drawings].”  He wondered how he would make a choice about college.  I realized that having an older brother already in college and a second in ninth grade who is thinking ahead about college, he has the idea that he will someday need to make a choice.  I simply assured him that it would be a long time before he would have to make a decision.  He definitely should not be required to think about such issues now.  That is a lot of stress for 18 year olds when they are making the choice.  It is a silly stress for a nine-year old who is eight years from the choice. 

But then I think back to what I wrote about the pressures of what to do after the marathon.  And even more importantly I think about the unnecessary pressures I put on myself for the marathon.  Does it really matter whether I run a sub-3:10 in the Philadelphia Marathon?  No.  Some day when I pass no one will say, “He failed to run a sub-3:10 marathon.”  And no one will say, “His life was so amazing because he did.”  Yes, it is a goal.  Yes, I have spent a long time preparing.  Yes, I would be elated to meet the goal and disappointed to fail.  But even in failure there would be life lessons.  So, the more I just let go of the stress, put my heart in the run, and do it, the better off I will be.  And in all likelihood, the higher the chance that all the effort will work to achieve the goal—rather than trying and failing.  Allowing things to “just happen” can make them much easier.

A lesson for me.

Connecting the dots forward in time, a lesson for my son some day. 

If you would like to hear my interpretation of this with some new introduction and conclusion music, please click here.  

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