If you've been reading my blog for long you know I have a kind of love/hate relationship with races. I love racing and I hate that I don't ever seem to do as well as I want to or think I should have. Over the years I have had a few races turn out like I thought they would (because I managed my expectations beforehand), but mostly I find a way to be disappointed with myself after the fact for one reason or another.
Following the Rocket City Marathon yesterday a friend of mine was having a bit of a tough time. He is a race walker who walks faster than some people run. At the race yesterday he found himself with an athlete who was having a tough day. They were swept at mile 23. ((If you don't know what that means it's when the designated last place finisher, in this case the 6 hour pacer, passes you. Rocket City Marathon has a 6 hour time cut off so when the 6 hour pacers, the course "sweepers", pass you, that means unless you can catch back up to them, you will not be an "official" finisher of the race.)) He could have left the struggling athlete behind and stayed with (or in front of) the sweepers, but instead he chose to hang with this person to the finish. Now that the race is over and his name is not on the official results page he is fighting the urge (or not) to beat himself up over that choice.
I know that feeling all too well.
I know you are wondering how on earth that relates to The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit. Well...there was a hobbit named Smeagol who found a ring (that he called "precious"). The ring made him a little crazy (a lot crazy). He developed an evil alter ego named Gollum. Gollum was bad news. All Gollum wanted was that ring; so much in fact, he even killed to keep it. One day a hobbit named Froto was able to get the ring from Smeagol/Gollum (long story but it happened). Froto could have killed Smeagol/Gollum but he showed mercy and didn't. Consequently Smeagol submitted himself to Froto and called Froto "master". There is a scene from The Lord of the Rings (not sure which one) where Gollum is trying to get Smeagol to kill Froto to get the ring back. I don't want to give anything away because I think it's a great scene so just watch it for yourself here (PAUSE the video at 1:23)
This is very similar to what usually happens with me after a race, and to what is happening with my friend now. There is this internal battle between the voices. One side says "You are worthless and a big ole loser because you didn't __(fill in the blank...ie "finish in under six hours" or "win an age group award" or "set a new personal record"...the list goes on)__." The other side says something like "I had a great time doing something that I love" or "I enjoyed my day" or "I helped someone else achieve something they might not have been able to if I hadn't been there at that moment in time".... The Gollum side is accusatory and just down right mean. That side wants to berate and beat up the other side.
Here's the thing...Smeagol has a choice to listen to Gollum or not. Gollum wants Smeagol to believe there is no choice. Gollum wants to take complete control, but watch what happens next (continue to play the video from 1:23). As Smeagol becomes more brave (I think because he has Froto looking after him) he is able to stand up to Gollum ("LEAVE NOW AND NEVER COME BACK!").
|Sculpture by Zenos Frudakis|
Something I have been working on for a while is freedom from my own "Gollum". I can't say I'm completely free..."he" is still there, but every time I bravely look that hag in my head in the face and speak truth I get closer and closer to being free from that voice.
The key is to know what the truth really is.
In regard to races I MUST know why I'm doing the race in the first place...BEFORE I start it. In fact, I need to know why I'm doing it before I sign up for it because that will determine how I train. How I train will determine how I'm able to perform. How I perform is not driven by what I do as much as it's driven by WHY. When people make a goal without having a reason to hang on to when getting to that goal gets hard, they won't hang on to the goal. They will change the goal or give up on it. But when you know why you want that thing, you can power through hard times and break out of the chains that hold you back.
Sometimes the ultimate goal is to do something you've never done before in order to glorify God as the provider of strength and determination, sometimes the goal is to let go of pride and selfishness and simply enjoy life every day to the fullest. No one can set your goals for you. That is something only you can do. But you darn sure better know why you have that goal, because I can guarantee you that something or someone will come along and want to strip you of your will to get there...knowing why it's important will help you hold on.
When you hold on to the goal it's like Gollum wanting to keep control of the ring (his "precious"). Spoiler alert (if you haven't seen/read the movies/books you might want to skip this paragraph). In the series the ring is destructive. Having the ring makes the possessor do things they wouldn't normally do just to keep control of the power the ring gives. In the end no one overcame the desire to keep the ring for himself. The very act of fighting over the ring is what destroyed the ring. The people who knew the evilness of the ring and knew it needed to be destroyed succumbed to it's power the moment it slipped on their finger.
You can't allow the the goal to gain control over you. Sifting your goals through your WHY will help you keep the ring off your finger and keep the goal from destroying the joy that comes with true freedom to pursue the why.
Bottom line: REMEMBER THE WHY.
Until next time...