Sunday, July 24, 2022

Go the Distance

Image from Wikipedia
My daughters enjoyed Disney. Numerous VHS tapes and music CDs were in our house. Animated movies were seen in theaters. We spent days on a Disney Cruise. Disneyland and Disney World were vacations spots. The iconic nature of anything Disney was pervasive in our family. 

"Hercules", the 1997 animated, Walk Disney Studios movie included the song, "Go the Distance." It was written by Alen Merken. These words have been a yo-yo in my mind for years:

               I will find my way. I can go the distance.
               I'll be there someday if I can be strong.
               I know every mile will be worth my while.

I have participated in numerous ultra-marathons (more than 26.2 miles). I have traversed these long distances on foot and bike in all seasons of the year. In the beginning the total distance was foremost in my mind. It was overwhelming. Next to my name on the official results page would often be the initials "DNF" (Did Not Finish). The demons of time would creep into my mind. If I set an estimated time and did not keep on track I would become upset. This escalated into a negative attitude which usually impacted not only my experience, but my completion rate. Going the distance was frustrating even when it was achieved. 

The concept of a starting point and a finish line are common. Measuring not only distance and time, but

A long distance
measuring one's self, often in comparison to others is prevalent in our culture. Awards, achievements, accolades, medals, and certificates become markers of progress and oftentimes measures of identity. Participants in events get labeled, such as: elite, possible podium placers, middle of the pack, back of the pack. All of this speaks of a transaction. A start and a finish. Time is measured and recorded. Status is conveyed. 

Basing my identity on the results of endurance events I would have the label of "back of the pack." Even with increased, intentional training my label did not change. Been there! Tried that! Adopting this perspective for identity opens the door for the demons of distance, time, and results to resume residence in my spirit. In order to bar the door a transformation, not a transaction was necessary.

Long & winding path
As Hercules sang about going the distance, as I gained lived experience, I realized that both a starting line and a finish line are arbitrary points. I am referring to more than physical places, but emotional, relational, and spiritual realities, as well. Specific, accepted events have set marking points. The Tuscobia Winter Ultra has two specific distances (160 miles + 80 miles). I have come to realize that in life there is only the daily distance, whatever that may be for each individual. Every step, every mile, every day, every climb or descent is part of going the distance. There are perspectives to ponder, experiences to incorporate, and attitudes to assimilate. These are the items that individually, but more often collectively result in transformation. I believe that transformations occur over time. Transformations are neither specific not measured. Transformations grow and blossom in the organic matter of daily life.

Climate change has been occurring for centuries. The nature of human beings to speak in terms of fear and scarcity underlies the institution of government. People speak as if there is a single or possibly multiple transactions that can solve a problem. Yes, some things can be accomplished through transactions. However, I will not allow my life to be defined by elections. Relocating to a different retirement setting will not make life easier.  My recycling and reusing will not save the planet. Getting through the medical maladies which impact my spouse and our relationship of marriage will not place me on a podium. Every day, every experience, every opportunity is an aspect of the ultra-marathon of my life. Transactions can be counted, accumulated, filed, and recorded. Transformations are unexpected insights and spiritual changes which cannot be measured by time or trophy. 

I can go the distance. I'll be there someday without worrying about the finish. Life is a complex, precious, frustrating, and formative journey. Every mile has been and will be worth my while!                    

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