Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Row, Row, Row Your Boat...11,000,000 meters down the stream and across the ocean...

I've been rowing again.  I've come back to it after a hiatus, and it's going pretty well.  Oddly enough it makes my back feel better, which is something I can't fully explain.  But that's not important right now.

A week or two ago I passed a significant milestone: 11,000,000 lifetime meters.  That's how far I've rowed since I started keeping up with it years ago. That's 6835 miles.  Almost far enough to go from California to the Philippines!  I haven't done the math on how many hours I've rowed to get there...it's a lot.  (If you're curious, I row on a Concept 2 rower downstairs).

Along the way I've had some memorable years.  In my first few years I lost a lot of weight (like 60 pounds, though I put some back on when Lisa said I didn't look healthy).  I was healthier and more fit in my mid 30's than at any point in my life to that time.  A few years ago I rowed 3,650,000 meters in a single year (which is an average of a 10k every day, all year long).

Getting on the erg every day requires a bit of convincing.  Convincing myself that it's important and worth it.  If I'm not careful, I'll use those past successes to justify not rowing. Instead of thinking about not getting it done today, I lean on those 11,000,000 meters like a crutch, putting out of my mind that today I failed to contribute, and my fitness has suffered (with the exception of planned break days, of course!).

Or sometimes I look forward to my goals...to the distance I'm going to row...just not today.  I'll complete my lifetime goal of reaching 24,901 miles (all the way around the equator)...at some point, and won't that be grand?!  It's not unlike dwelling on the past.  This time in the middle, I want a montage!  It's super lame and not very sexy!

The reality is that neither the rowing in the past nor the rowing in the future is as important as the rowing today.  Every day I choose to move forward or to move backward.  Previous success and future visions of glory are irrelevant!

Or are they?

The success of the past is important.  It gives me something to build on: a history, a foundation.  It reminds me that I am capable of great things if I put my mind and body to it.  I know the joy of meeting goals: row a marathon, row the length of the Nile, row across the Atlantic, the Pacific.  Moreover, accomplishing those goals makes me more fit to meet my future goals.  If you had told me when I was 20 years old that I would be able to sit down and row a marathon, I would have laughed in your face, and yet here I am, and I can do that.  The success of the past is a motivating force.

The future is similarly important.  Not because it's set it stone.  Not because my path won't change (and with it my goals).  In fact, the dynamic nature of the future is perhaps its most alluring feature.  But at all times I am moving forward...or I am resting so I can move forward again.  [Editor's note: not everyone is like me in this regard, and I'm in touch with that!]

And of course the present is important.  The present is when the work is actually done.  It is now that we become who we are becoming, minute by minute morphing from the person we were into the person we will be.  I rowed today, or I didn't.  Tomorrow I will be the person who rowed yesterday or the person who didn't, one day closer to my goal of rowing around the world or one day closer to being a person who used to row once upon a time.

Past, present, and future.  All important.  All persistent.  After all, when we die, there is present yet to be written for us, and future.  It doesn't matter if you believe in heaven or hell or not.  We live on in legacy, in the smile we gave that was passed and passed and passed again, or the kind word.

Past, present, and future.  All intertwined.  Wrapped in each other so they can't be teased out or pulled apart.  Defining together our existence.  Our present shaping our future shaped by our past--shaped by what we imagined our future!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've been thinking this week, and this is what I've come up with:

Don't live in the past.  Learn from it.
Don't squander the present.  Invest it intentionally (even if that means intentionally doing nothing).
Don't fear the future.  Be inspired by it.

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