Monday, November 19, 2007

Big Numbers in Small Chunks

This morning I calculated that I could end up with between 850 and 900 miles for the year by December 31st. That would be more than twice the mileage that I have ever run in any given year. The reality is that the big number is more a function of many 4-5 mile runs rather than the occasional 14-mile run. The big number comes from consistency in the small numbers over time.

A decent life lesson. A person who is consistent in their schoolwork or job performance or relational connections will be miles ahead of the person who is brilliant from time to time, but slacks off in between the flashes of brilliance. Relationally this is certainly true. Just having a great date or a good meal together with friends feels fantastic for a while, but if the "event" is followed by weeks or months of distance, then it seems like something out of a museum more than a living, breathing relationship.

Same seems to be true spiritually. You go to a conference or a retreat or a moving worship experience and it feels really good, affirming, and satisfying. But if God is forgotten (in reality or practically) for the next few days or weeks, then that great experience becomes mostly something to look back on with some level of longing. Then the danger is that a person's spiritual life becomes a matter of chasing spiritual mountaintop experiences more than pursuing God.

In all of these aspects of life the hard work is in the consistency of the day-to-day. But that is where the reward is as well. Then, before we know it we can look back and see how far we have come--and celebrate!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Second is Harder

During my 5.2 this morning, I began seriously considering whether to attempt another marathon. No conclusions yet as to that ultimate question, but I do think that making the decision to pursue the second may be much harder than the first. With the first, most of the experience is hypothetical--no real experience at the kind of distances in training or the time and energy involved to do it right. With the second, all of that is very real. I know how much time it will take. I know how I feel after the really long runs. I know some of the inconvenience that my training was to the rest of the family. Do I want to go through all of that again? More details later.

Sometimes I wonder what happens to some people whose faith seemed dynamic in college, but seems pretty ordinary afterwards. I wonder if now that they know what it takes to live a dynamic faith, it doesn't seem worth the effort to stay there--or to try to get there again. Or perhaps what seemed dynamic in earlier years no longer feels so dynamic because they have been there before. Perhaps their faith is every bit as strong as ever, but they just don't see it that way. After all, once you've run 8 - 10 miles pretty consistently, 3.5 doesn't seem like much.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Time Lapse

How quickly things can devolve. This past month has flown by with lots to do, but running has been sporadic. In the wake of accomplishing the BIG TASK, it was too easy to back off and slack off. But enough is enough. Yesterday evening's 3.8 felt way harder than it should and reminded me that I am not 25 anymore. "Springing back" has become a much more relative concept.

The ordinary drift of life appears to be away from all things healthy and good. As much as I have enjoyed the past few months of running again, and the attendant health benefits, it did not take long for that discipline to somewhat fall by the wayside. (N.B. I have run about 15 times since the marathon, so it's not like I just sat on the couch for the past month, but it has not been the same. (Is someone sounding a little defensive about this?))

Whether in the realm of the physical, the spiritual, the relational, and probably even the financial, the direction of an unattended life is to devolve toward breakdown and lack of health. If you leave a metal shovel outside it doesn't get shinier--it rusts. If you don't attend to your family and friends, then those relationships will stagnate and fall away. (How many high school and college friends do I still have vital relationships with? Maybe 2 or 3.)

Attending to life is not hard or really complicated. It is just so ongoing. It requires a continued vigilance. Not a lot of skill or specialized knowledge. Not always a lot of time. Rarely much money. Mostly just staying with it--pressing on.