When we face our fears we learn something about ourselves. It may take countless tries to overcome those fears and each time is not necessarily easier. The process teaches us where we are at. It teaches us how (if?) we can stay in the present moment without judgement or trying to change it.
I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be. – Fred Rogers
For me, being in the present moment is the most useful -and the hardest- state of being. Buddhist philosophy and anxiety coping techniques both support the idea that being as present as possible to a moment is how the mind works best. Trying to change what has been, or hoping to control future outcomes will not change this moment. This moment is all we have. Being as fully engaged in the here-and-now as possible gives this moment, and you, its worth. It allows freedom and release from expectations.
I have tried to stay in the present moment as much as possible and deal with the Now. I really enjoy running, but I am angst-ridden at races. Racing and results, in my mind, reflect my self-worth. I have spent the last two weeks balancing all-out panic and trying to conjure a level of self-acceptance.
Comparisons kill the joy. I know this, I get this, and yet I still do it. I measure my worth against someone else’s results and the time on the clock. I am the first to admit I have zero natural talent when it comes to running, but I do have determination: I will persist. My biggest fear and obstacle is within me: will I be ‘good enough’?
This weekend I ran a half marathon. I was really resistant to the idea, even convincing myself that since I had won free entry I could still get the souvenir shirt and not have to bother doing the race at all — I wasn’t throwing away money by not going. It was a beautiful sunny day — perfect running weather — and I was supported. No one had any expectations of me.
It was hard, and I did it. My legs cramped most of the run, I had to pee, and around 17 km my back seized so badly I had to walk to stretch it out. I never ever looked at my watch. The stupid lady who asked how long and far we had run — as we were passing by the 10km flag — was told we’d run 50 min. I misunderstood this as 60 min and thought “so this is what a pace of 6 min / km feels like. It’s going to be a long morning.” But I didn’t panic. I was so far removed from the time on the clock I didn’t care what was going on. I knew I wanted to finish and running was faster than walking.
On Friday I watched the video “Mister Rogers and me” about everyone’s favorite neighbour. It was a film by someone who had rented a cabin in Nantucket, right next door to the Mister Rogers’ cabin. The film was about the kind of person (and neighbour) Mister Rogers had been. He was genuine, he was grateful for who you were, and he was always in the moment. He was present where he was at, and who he was with.
When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. – Fred Rogers
It reminded me to be grateful for now. I don’t have to be good at anything. I don’t have to be a fast runner. I run and I have a coach because it is good for me. I get the sense of accomplishment when I cross the finish line and have a medal around my neck, but I’m slowly learning more about me — and that I am enough.
Maybe next time will be easier.