Where are you running to?
We live in a time obsessed with the destination. Regardless of where we find ourselves, it seems like we never arrive. We are always moving. If you are single or dating, society encourages you to marry. Shortly after you’re married, you’ll be asked about your plans to have children. Once your children are born, you’re advised to start saving for college. After they’ve eventually started college, you can seriously address retirement.
Where have you been running to?
The jobs, the houses, the businesses, the relationships – when do you actually arrive? Where is your final destination?
Robert Holden dubs this ongoing race as “destination addiction”. It is the constant desire to be somewhere else and have something more. It is the strong belief that complete satisfaction does not exist in the “now”, but exists in the future. It is something that we have all fallen victim to. Focusing on the next destination, the next position, the next season – the “next”.
My current to-do list is 229 lines long. Every morning I re-prioritize this list, in accordance with what I believe is most important. It is one of the few habits I subconsciously adopted from my father. My measure of accomplishment is often linked to what I am able to cross off that particular day.
If every task took one hour to complete, and I had eight hours a day to just focus on my list, it would take 28 days to accomplish my goals and finally have nothing “to do”. The problem is – many tasks take more than one hour, and it’s terribly unrealistic to think no new goals will arise in a month. And what do you do when life happens? When events take you by surprise? More tasks. More lists. More running. A couple of weeks ago, I managed to scroll to the very bottom of my list, to be met by a message from my partner:
“And above all this, remember I love you – Nate.”
And above all this.
Too often, we get caught up setting yet another goal, running to another destination, and forgetting to appreciate what is above all this. We find it difficult to savour the blessing of the season because we’re pining after the possibilities of the next. This can lead to a state of permanent dissatisfaction, where our present is never enough.
Holden notes “we suffer, literally, from the pursuit of happiness”. There is no peace in the chase, and so many of us are busy seeking, that we don’t appreciate what we have found.
Ironically, more than anything, this series on “running your own race” has taught me the importance of pausing. Pausing to appreciate the season. Pausing to learn the lesson. Pausing to be content in the now.
Finding time to pause does not mean you are quitting the race. It means you are simply taking time to cherish where you are, and where you have come from.
For a while, I’ve been grappling with the concepts of “counting it all joy” and “being content in every situation”. Admittedly, it is incredibly challenging to do, and you have to be intentional about it. Scheduling moments of reflection in your day can help you work out what matters “above all this”.
Recently, I’ve been reminded of how short life is and how quickly it can be taken away from us. Death is unfortunately guaranteed, and at some point we will be no longer. Many of us do not know the day or the hour – and as much as it’s important to look forward to our tomorrows, we have to make an effort to fully embrace our todays.
I constantly tell people “you were made for more than this”, and I’m only just realizing how problematic that can be without context. Indeed, I believe that we all have the potential to do greater than what we’re encountering, but at the same time, we were also made for the now.
You were made to experience now.
Are you fully present? Are you fully engaged? Are you fully using your senses? Are you fully here? Or are you merely rushing to the next destination?
Allow yourself to arrive – and enjoy the gift of now.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on running your own race.