Boy has the last few months been an adventure (to put it mildly) for me. But it wasn't until yesterday that I realized the importance of the phrase "Embrace The Journey, Not The Destination" (there are multiple variations on this but this is the quickest way to say it). People, myself included, often focus on the ultimate goal - the destination. And then if the goal is not achieved, they are crushed and all that time has gone by without them enjoying that time.
You have to be present at all times. You always hear that you need to enjoy the moment because you don't know what's going to happen in the next. Until you experience that, however, you don't really know what it means. On Feb 17th this year, I experienced a life change that was totally unexpected and led down this path to my recent surgery. It wasn't as significant an event as many have had to deal with. But it was enough to stop me in my tracks for the first time in my life. As I've been trying to recuperate, my primary focus had been on getting back to running so I could train for the run across Tennessee in July. But, yesterday as post-op issues continued to prevail and as I realized I still have several evaluations to go through, I found myself understanding that it's all about today, this minute, not what's going to happen (or what I hope to happen) in July. Strangely, though, I felt at peace with that knowledge. I have spent too much of my life working toward something else - working thru my childhood just to graduate medical school and at that time my only thought was "What now?" (not a good feeling); training for a race; working 5 days to get to the weekend; working 8 hours to finally go home, etc. I never have spent time smelling the roses along the way. In my initial years as a physician I was a typical physician - go, go, go. Then in my later years I worked in the DC area and that's completely rush, rush, rush, especially when coupled with my lousy working hours due to the distance and traffic.
I would say that the closest I have come to embracing the journey has been when I've been doing my long runs because I have so much time to think and do whatever I want. However, when you add training to that picture, it throws in the goal and that takes away from the pure enjoyment I used to have on the runs.
So, what happened yesterday? I think it was a combination of no longer wanting to fight these undesirable post-op issues as well as just having the time to take care of myself. All of a sudden I found myself thinking that I may not make it to the Tennessee run in July. I just don't know what will happen in the next few months - with my training and my body. Rather than be upset about maybe not getting there (still an unknown), I am choosing to love my body and love the challenges I'm experiencing and just be grateful. I am going to put gratitude first in my life and try every day to do something nice for someone else. And I'm going to be kind to my body and try to listen to it more. If I make it to Tennessee, that will be wonderful. If I don't, I won't have passed up months just thinking about getting there - I will have spent those months enjoying life and doing for others, two of the most important things you can do in life.
See, you're never too old to learn about life. Even though it's easier said than done, I feel confident that I am on a different path at this point.