Between sick kids, work projects, and just “life,” things have been hectic around the Ferris house the last couple of weeks. In spite of the upheaval that deadlines and vomit can bring, life lately has been very blah. Not that I need my life to be action packed and “go-go-go,” but things have settled into a predictable rhythm of waking up, drinking coffee, going to work, packing lunches, asking about school days, watching TV, and sleeping (this list is not all inclusive, but you get the idea.) It’s as if life lately has been more of solving an algebra problem than actually living: “What you do to one side of the equation, you do to the other…don’t forget PEMDAS!” Just doing the same things over and over and over to get the exact same answer, day in and day out.
I’ve spent some time trying to figure out when exactly this malaise set in, but at this point, I’m more concerned with figuring how to get out of it rather than the why I’m stuck here. In that vein, I began reading Jon Acuff’s Start. Subtitled, “Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters,” this book seems to be a godsend. While I haven’t gotten through much of it this morning, I’ve made it into the second chapter, and right there, staring me the face, it was:
The starting line is the only line you completely control.
The start is the only moment you’re the boss of.
While both statements are deceptively simple in their approach, how often do we choose to believe otherwise? “Well, these are the cards I was dealt, so I just have to play them…” To some extent, that is true. We can’t control things like our genetic disposition, how we were raised, or the fact that hurricane Darla will unexpectedly rattle our foundations from time to time. Oftentimes, we want to wallow in self-pity, to be victims of our circumstances rather than believe what we can achieve if we only put in the hard work and tried. But don’t be deceived, while you do control the starting line, crossing it is only half the battle. Take that step, and the gauntlet will have been thrown. I’m preaching to the choir here, but I think more people are afraid of the starting line because what it represents. It’s a challenge to move into the unknown, beyond your comfort zone and to test your limits. Moving past the starting line doesn’t just ask something of you; it requires something of you. Discipline. Hard work. Sacrifice. BUT THOSE ARE SCARY WORDS! You bet they are. As creatures of habit, we like our predictable, neat, cozy, little lives. But is that truly living? Like I saw earlier, life isn’t an equation where we follow the order of operations, solve for x, and get our expected solution. Sure, you could do that, but that’s not living, that’s merely existing.
So what does your starting line look like? How can you shake up your life for the better? For me, it’s losing weight, being more mindful of what I’m eating, and falling back in love with running. Last Monday, I set a goal of running three days a week. I was successful two days and considered going out last night, if not for the rain/snow/sleet that was coming down. I’m tracking my calories, and with the help of a wellness coach at my workplace, have set a goal to be under 200 pounds the next time we meet in early January. That’s my starting line. It’s not going to be easy, I’ll need to be disciplined and learn how to say “no” to that slice of pecan pie (and pumpkin pie, and Christmas cookies) that I’ll inevitably encounter of the next five weeks or so, but in the end, it’ll all be worth it.
As the aspiring runners’ adage goes, “no matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping the people on the couch.” So I’ll ask you again, what starting line do you need to draw on the ground today? Whatever it is, do it, and go forward with confidence. Forward progress, no matter how slow, is still progress in the right direction!