Friday, March 28, 2014

Don't Lead, Run

The snow was everywhere, mixing with the brown slush as we ran around in circles, knowing we'd get back eventually, just not knowing exactly how…or when. Outside on those crunchy white roads, a burning, stiff feeling spread through my feet and hands, and even the pale yellow lights felt cold, contained in little glass balls on tall hallow lamp posts, polluting the air with static brightness. It hadn't been so dark before we left. Eventually we stopped running and debating whether to cut through the massive white field on our right or wait and find a road further down instead.


It's okay to get lost. Getting lost doesn't make us incompetent, we make ourselves feel incompetent. 

I once got lost for three hours in a really big city. It was raining and I had a whole bunch of luggage with me. I am an expert in the directionally challenged department. When I was younger, I asked my mom to drop me off five minutes from my house, I wanted to run home. I got lost...five minutes from my house.

It's okay to get lost. It's okay to screw things up, to be terrible at something, to fail miserably, to look stupid, and to blush uncontrollably.

I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself to constantly perform exceptionally. Here's the conclusion I've come to: I shouldn't want to be exceptional, to stand out, or to lead. It's better to blend in, accept an anonymous existence, and embrace the fact that I'm such a small part of everything else. Strength comes from weakness (getting lost), or so I'm told.

Like most things, I relate leading to running. It is better to be lost than to lead. I don't want to lead. If I am considered a leader on the cross country team, it's only because I love to run. I don't want to lead, but I can't tell you how much I love running. I don't mean to make running more than it is, running isn't spiritual, but we are. There's more to life than running, but I think running brings more to our lives...

I don't want to lead, but I can't tell you how much I love running.

Leading our team was never about me or my ability to lead us, it was and always has been about running. It's much more than that, but running is fundamentally our action, not an ideology; it's something we put into practice everyday. Years from now, even after I have stopped, our team will continue running season after season and become a group of ladies I'll never meet, practicing the same thing I did everyday.

We could say it's the team that's most important, and it is, but the team would not come together without our ability to run; it will outlive all of us. I love running, but there were days (even seasons) when I really dreaded it. I have come to believe it's only when I actually love to run, when I understand the goodness of even the monotonous, frustrating, impossible days of daily practice, that I should lead. I should lead only because I have loved the daily action. I am not really a leader, I only love to run, and by loving, I invite others to join in and do the same.

Running will teach a lot about living, too. 


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