Friday, March 06, 2009

She said, "Put one foot in front of the other and repeat until it's done."
"How do I know it's done", I asked.
"When you arrive", she answered.
"Arrive where?", I asked.
"Where you are supposed to be." She said.
Cha Sears

So I've been exercising on this machine at the YMCA, the True Stride! I've gotten to where I go over 11 miles and burn 1200 calories every time I do it. I know, it's amazing isn't it? So it only makes sense that I'm in love with this machine...that I look forward to doing it everyday.

This machine has taught me a lot. When I first started doing it, I would put it on level 20 (at this level my feet look like they are walking in place...literally). I looked like I was moving nowhere and doing nothing. But, to my right was this cute young thing flying away at an enviable pace. I mean her arms were pumping, her legs were flying, she was sweating and covering all sorts of ground. She looked like she was running a 400 in the Olympics. Pan back over to me and I look a bit pathetic; like I am covering no ground and walking into a wall. But, I refused to stop.

"At least I am doing something", I thought. Anyway, I had the monitor covered with my towel so I couldn't see how "not far" I was going. But little Miss Missy had her towel around her neck (to catch all her sweat from her break-neck pace) leaving her stats in full display for the whole world to see. And, me being me, you know I was comparing myself to her. Why does everybody go so much faster than me? Look how amazing she day Lord, one day. I can't wait till I look like, she's gone 3.5 miles and burned 350 calories. I tell you what, everybody can fly, save for me. You get my point? This is second nature to me; comparing myself to whomever and whatever and on the back end coming up short.

Meanwhile I'm pushing through and sweating my ass off (at least I hope it's coming off) and making strides so slow, you can see me concentrating. Then the next thing I know, little Miss Missy is done and wiping off her machine. I am staring down her stats through my peripheral vision (I don't want to look like I am desperate, juvenile and comparing myself to her...even though I am). She's gone 4.9 miles and has burned 491 calories. Anyways, I avoid looking at my own stats (I promised myself that I wouldn't look until I had only 5 minutes remaining). I think I'll be within my time range in another couple of minutes or so. All I can do to keep going is to look at the movie screen and try to connect with the story line (I work out in the cinema room) of this awful movie called "Star Dust"; I think it has too many moving parts for me and I can't nail down a story line. Perhaps, it's also because I've been too preoccupied with little Miss Missy's exercise stats. Anyway, I can finally look at my stats to see the ground I have covered: I pull back my towel, hoping that I have gone a mile or two and to my shock, I have gone 10.4 miles and have burned 998 calories! HOLY CRAP! But, I was going so slow~ sure I was working up a sweat and my breathing was laboured, but I felt like I was doing nothing (especially compared to little Miss Missy). Okay, so maybe Missy isn't her name, but she looked cute and perky enough to be called Missy.
Oswald Chambers said it best, "there is always one fact more in every man's case of which you know nothing". We all know that comparing is wrong and self-defeating. But, what I realized that day was that our comparisons are baseless~ utter garbage without merit. You are NEVER comparing apples to apples. You are always comparing cherries to Kumquats. You never know the full story that you are comparing your story to. I had gone 11 miles and burned just under 1100 calories by the time my true stride journey was up, and every step of the way I felt like I was moving NOWHERE! So this is how making headway feels. This is how covering ground smells. It feels and smells like nothing, but a step. There's no grand feeling of accomplishment that comes over you when you cover ground, it just feels like another step. There is no applause from the raucous crowd to benchmark your progress...just a step. Just a feeble nondescript step. Extraordinary people don't feel extraordinary, they feel quite ordinary and average. The step that gets you to the summit of Kilimanjaro feels like the many, boring, non-ground covering, laborious, nowhere getting steps before it.

I don't need to feel like I am making headway in order to make headway. I don't even need to hope that I am making headway. I WILL, as long as I keep stepping. The true stride taught me 2 things: 1) comparing myself to you is baseless. There are too many meandering parts in both of our stories, that to nail down a common fact that would accurately allow me to determine my worth as compared to you is...IMPOSSIBLE and FOOLISH! 2) I don't need to feel like I am making headway in order to do so. I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I just need to keep walking.

So let's make this pact: I'll walk my path and you'll walk yours. And, we'll tell each other stories along the way while we share cherries and kumquats between the two of us, knowing that we're both covering ground in the right direction.