Monday, January 30, 2012

Sea-foam Tinted Lessons

This time of year, the sod on the football field at the city stadium turns from its summertime emerald to a mossy, sea-foam green. As I raced around the track at the field's perimeter during this morning's interval training run, it occurred to me that sea-foam green has colored important moments in my life. And as my mind lost itself in the past (possibly to avoid acknowledging the exhaustion in my legs and burn in my lungs), I couldn't help notice how those lessons learned were again relevant today.

When I was about twelve years old our family owned a small lake cabin in upstate New York. My younger sister and I loved to take Dad's fishing boat out on the water. It was a fourteen-foot, flat-bottom aluminum boat, painted a bright sea-foam green. We loved rowing that boat around the lake. 

In order to row it, I had to sit backwards on the middle seat, facing the stern. My sister would sit all the way to the rear, facing me and the bow of the boat.  We always had a destination, places we'd named ourselves like Loon Island or Beaver Bay. As I pulled with all my strength, the oar pins squeaking in enthusiastic protest, my sister kept an eye on our trajectory. When she indicated the boat was drifting to the right, I pushed the left oar deeper or with more might until she let me know we were back on course. 

In life, it's easy to steer a little off course. Knowing who you can rely upon to tell you the truth makes all the difference when those little adjustments are necessary to get back on track.

Moving forward a couple years, I was in a sorority at the university. We were Omicron Xi, and our colors were medium blue, sea-foam green and white. Each semester we elected officers to manage aspects of our Greek life, and one post was called Pledge Mistress. The PM was in charge of the pledge program. In my view, it was the most desirable position to hold.  I ran for PM every semester for two years, but I was always outvoted. Finally, last semester senior year, I won the election. Looking back, I wish I'd enjoyed the post more. It was as if I'd spent so much energy fighting to win it that once it was mine, I was too emotionally exhausted to give it my all. 

Few truly important things in life come easy. The acquisition of whatever you define as 'wealth' is hard-fought and rich with life lessons, but don't forget to enjoy that which you have achieved. There are lessons in the rewards, too.

Today on the track, I was to run two 1200-meter intervals (three times around the track, or 3/4 of a mile per interval) with a rest of two minutes in-between. My goal was 1200 meters in 6:57. I finished each in 8 minutes. Next, I was to run four 800-meter intervals (twice around the track, or 1/2 of a mile per interval). Those intervals were to be run in 4:34 each. 

I only made my goal during one of the 800-meter intervals. 

But as I cooled down afterwards, walking the track around that sea-foam green grass, I embraced this lesson:  Training is hard, necessary work that yields results at every session -- and though those results may be small, they must be celebrated.

If I only concentrated on the intervals in which I didn't make my time goal, I would feel defeated. This is only the beginning of the fourth week of my ten-week training program (to run faster during the upcoming half-marathon in March). I'm not at the halfway mark yet, and already I beat the clock on one of those intervals. Perseverance can't survive in a negative environment. It's so important to stay positive!

All these sea-foam green lessons apply to my writing; and, though I'd love to go on about that...I don't want this post to be longer than it already is. Suffice it to say that with support from people who have your back, plus a healthy attitude towards acquisition and possession of the stuff of your dreams, added with perseverance to push forward no matter what challenges you face, anything is possible.