As part of the lead up to the Baltimore Running Festival I got to run 20 miles of the course with about 300 other runners. Sponsored by local running stores, they also had 10 and 15 mile options plus tips on how to customize the distance for whatever you needed. Everyone got race bibs, turn by turn directions, an overall map, and off you went. (Here’s a link to the map if you’re curious: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5095440 )
There were 2 huge differences between this run and a full on event: 1) no police involvement, so watch the traffic, and 2) since the course wasn’t totally marked and blocked off you had to actually navigate.
I’m pointing out those 2 differences not as complaints. I’m pointing them out because I learned a very valuable life lesson while on that run.
We spend a lot of energy and time trying to find our way.
I’m going to clutch my Man Card securely when I say this: I’m not a navigation guy. When zombies attack give me a weapon, point me in the right direction, and I’ll do what I can. Do not give me a map and say “which way do we go?” I digress.
20 miles through Baltimore provides a guy with remedial navigation skills plenty of opportunities to get things a bit back to front. So, things got a little twisty. It happened on my run and it happens in life.
Sometimes I knew I was lost. Sometimes I’d realize it when I’d see something that triggered that “this doesn’t look right” thing in my head. Sometimes I’d just get paranoid (it’s one of my skills) and I’d have to check things out.
Every single time, I spent energy and time trying to figure out my course. On a “fun run” where my primary goal was time on my feet, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. In a race where you care about time or in our lives, repeatedly spending those valuable and unretrievable resources trying to find our way can be a very bad thing.
We can’t completely eliminate getting off course. This is life. Analyzing how it happened only goes so far. Things happen. So how can we realize we’re off course and get the guidance we need so we are back on track faster? I think it has something to do with community.
Several times I noticed I was off track because I saw a group of runners from a distance on a different path. Several times I got pointed in the right direction before wasting time and energy by other runners. Generally speaking, I’d find myself alone, realize I was not where I wanted to be, and others would help get me there, confirm I was back on track, or both.
Isn’t that usually how it works though? In the Bible we see that Satan waits to tempt Jesus until Jesus is alone. He’s been using that same ploy since the beginning. When was Eve tempted? When she was alone. I know that most of my biggest mistakes were decisions made on my own.
We need to stop living like we know it all and can handle it. Life is lived in shades of gray. It’s sweaty and smelly and can be difficult. Community makes staying on course easier. Community adds an element of fun to something that can be very difficult at times.
How much time and energy would we have to focus on other things if we lived in better community with each other?