“May we go to places that scare us” – Pema Chodron
“Yes, we say, I want the destiny that awaits me; but I want complete safety while I explore it.” David Whyte
Over the years running has taken me to scary places, and as a result, has been a significant source of personal growth. For one, I suffer from high anxiety, the fear of heights. I have experienced the terror of the 500-foot drop offs on the ledges at the Grand Canyon and Zion Canyon and braved an icy ledge at 11,000 feet in the Grand Tetons. Along with my brother Jeff and nephew Jason, we had to be rescued out of a flash flood in a canyon in Zion National Park. What’s more, each time I toe the starting line at a 100-mile race I experience fear – fear of the inevitable suffering and pain and fear of failure and whether or not I will persevere through the difficult times.
Yet, in these times of fear I also feel most alive. Life on the edge can be exhilarating when you consider the possibilities. Admittedly, starting in Cleveland today with 256 miles in front of me was somewhat fear-inducing. Will I suffer an injury sometime during the week that will leave me short of the goal? How will I adjust to the inevitable pain and boredom that will come sometime around days 4-5? Will having run that 100-mile race/training run two weeks ago be a huge mental mistake that will lead to a fatigued body and ultimate failure?
But oh the possibilities. That a family in West Virginia that has been without a home the past four years will get to move into a new home. That there is more learning and maturity to be had in the pain and suffering of this journey. That I will develop a deeper appreciation for and relationship with family and friends joining me along the way.
I couldn’t be doing this run without the support of my brother Jerry and his wife Kathy. They will be travelling with me all week tagging along in a motor home for food breaks and encouragement. Today and tomorrow my brother Jeff is joining me along with my grandson Lincoln, his parents Jordon and Krista, my wife Anna, and my daughters Rachel and Kate. We had such a good time on the trail today.
Ultimately, we would all do well by finding ways of going boldly in life, facing the fear of failure along the way for the rewards on the other side of suffering. In the worlds of 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” May it be so for all of us and for the rest of my journey this week.