So, here goes. My first venture into the world of Blog. I hope my thoughts start making a regular appearance here, at least once a month or so. I find that I do most of my thinking when I am doing something for exercise. Also, growing up as a big "team sports" guy, I'm always making analogies between sports and other life lessons. Hopefully I didn't just lose you. This space will not be about sports ALL the time.
Kristin and I went on a very challenging bicycle ride a few weeks ago that originated in Foresthill. We decided ahead of time that we would ride 40 miles. By no means do we claim to be experts but we do ride fairly regularly. This ride was unlike any we had done before. As we began we were delighted to find that we immediately started going downhill….FAST. The road twisted along the mountainside down, down and down some more. At some point Kristin started laughing as she realized that we would be riding back up this same route later on. We descended for 10 STRAIGHT MILES!! Eventually we bottomed out, crossed a river bridge and started to climb the other side of the canyon. The route was every bit as steep as what we had just gone down if not steeper and it went on and on and on. For 10 STRAIGHT MILES!! Had we not turned around at mile 20 like we had planed we would probably STILL be climbing. We gained over 7,000 feet of elevation that day in total.
As I looked up at long stretches of mountain road extending up ahead of me as far as I could see I remember feeling pretty dominated by feelings of hopelessness and despair. I was pretty certain that I was not going to make the goal of 40 miles that day several times. It was during these times when I would have to shift my focus from looking up at the endless road ahead of me to looking about 20 feet in front of my bikes front wheel. While I was pretty certain I was not going to make it to the top (wherever that was) I was much more confident that I could cover the 20 foot distance immediately in front of me. That is how the ride was eventually accomplished that day……mile after painfully slow mile……20 feet at a time.
You can liken this approach to nearly anything that seems overwhelming, nearly impossible or painfully difficult. Making your way through school. Getting through a long work day. Working to be patient in challenging relationship struggles. This list can go on. Rather than feeling defeated in these situations with a "big picture" focus we can shorten our gaze and narrow our focus and take these challenges "20 feet at a time". Making a daily checklist for yourself that includes things that you would like to complete at work can help the day pass and give a greater sense of accomplishment. Working toward specific self-improvement goals like exercise or study or helping others can help shift the focus from our own difficult emotions when we find ourselves in challenging situations with others. These goals should be things that we are in 100% control of completing ourselves and not dependent on effort by anyone else. In these situations, as Yoda once said, "Do or do not…..there is no try". We get stronger when we wrestle with what challenges us. The trick is to find a way to persevere.