And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself – well…how did I get here?
“Once in a Lifetime” by David Byrne and Brian Eno
Remain in Light, Talking Heads (1980)
There are more pieces to the puzzle than there is frame to contain
To explain how I got here is a story unto itself — several stories actually, depending on which rather unconventional fragment of my life you wish to uncover. Since my purpose is to talk about this journey as it happens and as it is influenced by my last trip down this road, I will try to stay at the 25,000 foot level and stay away from buzzing the farmland with minutiae that would clutter things up.
I hate failing. There I said it.
Before you start posting motivational buzz phrases and fill me with nauseating schmoopiness a la Stuart Smalley, read my lips: Failure sucks. Not everyone can succeed. Not everyone meets their goals. And despite current pop culture psycho-babble, not everyone is a winner. There ARE losers and there ARE failures.
As a perfectionist I hold myself to impossible standards and expectations. I’m aware of this and I choose not to alter this way of thinking because it’s how I have survived lots of things, how I have lived my life every step of the way. I’m too far into this life thing to change that, and honestly, I don’t want to change it. It is what it is.
So back to the failure thing.
In late 2004 I decided to run a 10K race. I had serious health issues and was under a great deal of stress in my personal and professional life. I probably shouldn’t have tried the whole running thing. But I thought, what the hell, I need a change. Maybe this will be good for me.
I completed the 10K and somewhere along that path my trainers convinced me that I had what it took to run a marathon. Maybe I was smoking crack. Maybe I was dropped too many times on my head when I was very young. I have to attribute this to some sort of developmental or sanity issue because there is no other possible explanation for the delusion that overruled my reasoning mind and led me to believe that a marathon was a good idea.
As I trained, I ran short distance races and worked towards a half marathon (translation: drug my carcass over the asphalt until it screamed in pain). My health worsened and within several weeks of completing what I call “The Most Hellish 13.1 Miles of My Life or Why the Hell Didn’t I Just Hail a Cab?”, I was having surgery. This ended my journey and sent me onto some other paths, down some weird roads, and onto one helluva a highway.
Fast-forward to 2009 and here I sat with this niggling thought in my head:
Shut up! Shut up you!
Unfortunately the “What if?” beastie decided it was a great time to camp in my cranium and poke at me. No matter how hard I tried to silence it, What if? kept rearing its ugly head.
You’re probably thinking this shouldn’t be such a big deal. I was here before and I can do this again. Not so fast, dear readers. BTDT and I have the medal to prove it, but…
Perhaps I should explain something before I wander deeper into the shallows. I am not now, never have been and never will be one of those “OMFG I just had the greatest run! Running rawks! It’s my life” types. I HATE running. I loathe it with every bone, muscle, ligament and joint in my body. But more than I hate running, I hate letting something beat me. I feel like I let this challenge beat me and I am determined to win this.
So how did I get here? I got here because I hate failing. I can’t accept this mark on my life, even though I had valid reasons, even though it wasn’t because I didn’t try, even though there is no reason on earth for me to lace up those shoes and hit that blackened path of torture towards the marathon. Even though.
What if? became Why not? which became What the hell!
And so the journey begins again.