No New Year’s Resolution comes from a place of strength. New Year’s resolutions have backstory, and that backstory is usually filled with a certain amount of trial and error that is tragically dominated by the error. It’s from a place of struggle that we derive these yearly promises of growth. It’s from a place of shameful longing that we endeavor to torture ourselves, year-after-year, with the hope a better self. Would be that we succeed; it would be shocking, would it not? Don’t we secretly laugh and doubt every resolution that crosses our desk, like some veto-happy legislator striking down each proposal for a better world?
The cynic in me shakes his head at the New Year’s Resolution as if it’s something to be pitied.
But the cynic in me must die.
When I was young, I was what people politely call “husky.” In truth, I was a lumbering ogre of a boy without the charisma or self-confidence to keep myself away from my cynical predilection. I was an uninspired loaf who preferred sandwiches to social events, solitude to significance, and sitting to standing (literally and figuratively).
I played sports as a child, but only sports where my size was an advantage. I was taller than most, so I played basketball, I weighed more than most, so I played football, and I could throw things hard and far, so I played baseball. However, when I tried to play soccer… I met my match. In an aside to my parents, my coach ventured to say, “he doesn’t really like to run, does he?”
Like to run? Was he joking? Not only did I not like to run, I believe my younger self thought running would induce death or seizure. I couldn’t run and I wouldn’t work to get better. Sure, I had to run in other sports, but not for so long, and it certainly wasn’t as important. My usual plan of Hulk smash didn’t work in soccer, and for that reason, I only tried the sport for one season. I allowed myself to fail and quit because I couldn’t run.
When we are confronted with the things that are most difficult for us, we often turn our backs on them, citing that these things just aren’t our strength. We tell ourselves that it’s okay, because we still have other talents, and everyone can’t be good at everything. We lie to ourselves, and allow ourselves to believe that it’s about a fate that we can’t change, and not about our own weakness.
Fast-forward to one year ago, and the past was rearing its ugly head. My wife was a runner in high school, and wanted to rediscover the hobby. I was less than enthusiastic, however, my outlook on many things has changed since my brooding adolescence, so I tried it with her. With the memory of that fat boy, laughing at me the whole time, I failed again at running. I was just as terrible at it as I was when I was young.
The lying ways of my youth came creeping back. Well, I’m just not built to be a runner. I don’t really enjoy it. I’m just doing it for my wife. Unfortunately for my lies, I’ve grown wiser with age. I couldn’t live with the excuses. I can’t be such a hypocrite. It was truly time to flush out that fat boy I once was.
I was Densa, kneeling amid the dust and rubble of failure, telling myself to get up.
So, I got up. Six months ago I made a commitment to do something I had never succeeded at before, and frankly, never thought I could succeed at. I began running regularly, and though my improvement has been slow, I have improved. I can now run six miles, and I don’t plan on stopping there. I’m not sure what distance I would consider a success, but I’m not sure that it matters. The thing I’ve found in running is that it’s not about finishing, it’s about continuing and enduring.
This year, I have a New Year’s Resolution. This year, I will run 500 miles.