The return to "real life" and routine was long, causing me to challenge which venue deserves the label "real life." It is nice to be home with my wife, son and daughter, our dog and rabbit. But it's also nice to experience life outside the four walls of an office in the great outdoors.
Nietzsche famously said, "He who has a why to live for can endure almost any how." If we have a purpose, we can push through nearly any barrier. The employee who shows up to work to earn a paycheck will accomplish a different level of success than the employee who looks to change the world through their work.
Two things crossed my path yesterday that brought attention to the issue of "purpose." First, I was listening to a story on NPR titled "People Who Feel They Have a Purpose in Life Live Longer." Research shows people with a defined purpose have less stress, are happier and as a result live longer and healthier lives. Second, Jon Gordon posted a blog entry about a frightening air travel experience he and his family had recently titled "Life and Death." Following that experience, Jon came closer to the two priorities in his life: (1) his family; and (2) making a difference through his life and his writing. These two articles remind me of the importance of purpose, and the role it plays to not only motivate WHAT you do, but HOW you do it.
Why am I running? What is the purpose? To say I'm running to qualify for Boston or to get in shape is no different than the person who goes to work to pick up the check. In reality, I'm running to be healthy for my family so I can be here to support them for a very long time, and I'm running to set an example to my kids that with hard work and discipline you can accomplish seemingly insurmountable goals.
I woke up this morning at 4am, and my alarm went off at 4:30. Around 4:45 my 13-year old son was standing over my bed saying he was going running. I jumped out of bed and told him I was going with him. He was dressed in the fatigues and combat boots he bought for the trip to Alaska, along with a Camelbak a former Marine gave him after seeing him run to the store last week. He's proud, and wants to be a Navy SEAL. He had a plan mapped. He wanted to run 1.7 miles out and back - a bit more than a 5K, he told me. I told him my plan had me running 30 minutes, but decided we'd run together. He worked hard, running most of the way out. He encouraged me to keep running while he walked most of the way back.
Unfortunately his boots and wool socks (I didn't know what he was wearing under those boots until he showed me upon his return) gave him blisters and a lesson. We'll let those blisters heal, and we'll buy the right socks. Then he'll get back out there on the road. He won't run in sneakers because that doesn't fit his "purpose." He's defining himself as tough, and seeks to get tougher. Far be it from me to stand in his way, or in front of his purpose.