When your greatest opponent is–you
An email slips into my inbox today. The Cub, my last-but-not-least, blue-eyed boy, is headed for the middle school. His elementary days are behind him now, and this note has come for him, and for us.
I print it off and hand it to him. He takes it in one browning paw, shoulders rising, then falling. Breathing in, breathing out, scanning the message.
“Parents of Incoming 6th Graders,” it reads at the top in bold, black, all capitals. “Your son or daughter is invited to join the cross-country team.” And the details and facts are spelled out, bullet after bullet down the page.
He’s quiet, just thinking. Plunked at the top of the carpeted stairs, he’s brushing his teeth, and he’s thinking. Then it comes: “Mom, I’m not first. I’m not that fast.”
Ah, that ancient, horrid fear that’s plagued us all. It’s no respecter of persons, and it’s come for him. Inside his words and behind them, I hear this: “You won’t make it. You’re not good enough, and everyone will know it.”
And so Mother, who’s done this before, she rises to meet Ancient Fear, and she says, “There is only one person who can win, right?” His serious face is nodding. “And everyone else is behind him.” A nod.
“There is only one person who is last, right? And everyone else is in front of him.” Another nod. “So almost everybody is somewhere in the middle.”
“But.” It’s The Cub. “People pass me all the time.”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+DiggPinterestBloggerSo, Mother, a veteran of the XC course, reminds him, “You will have practices. Like, every day, right? And you will get stronger and faster and healthier and better. That is what the coach is for. He knows how to get you ready. So people might pass you, but you will get better.
“In cross country, you will beat your biggest opponent–yourself. When you PR (beat your Personal Record), that’s huge! And that’s a big, big win.”
Today, I’m thinking how much this is just like–Life. Just like–Us. Just like the race we’re all running right now.
That Ancient Fear, it hunts us all. “You won’t make it. You’re not enough, and everyone will know it.” And this, “Others will pass you.”
Know what? Folks will pass us. But we’re still running.
Even if we don’t cross the line first, we keep running.
Even if we cross the line last, still running.
The vast, common horde of us? Somewhere right there in the middle, all running. And that, fellow runner, is okay.
What if the goal’s not coming in first, but to beat our greatest opponent–ourselves, and our fears. What if that?
What if finding the courage to overcome our own odds; the courage to try new, frightening things. The audacity to step up and step out and say, “I’ll try,” is what makes real winners of us all? What if that?
We’re running together on the same team, after all. We’re never truly running alone. Band of Brothers.
For you and your very own PR this day,