July 11, 2008

Running In Place

Remember when you were in fourth grade PE class and you had to run in place? You know, jogging without going anywhere. In hindsight, it seems fairly ridiculous. I can't imagine it's the type of activity that would teach kids any type of valuable lesson besides, say, learning how to skip PE class.

It seems to me that forcing a group of highly impressionable children to run in place may just be some sort of displaced analogical representation of a sad and lonely gym teacher who feels like he's going nowhere in life. Making kids run in place is his way of forcing the rest of the world to suffer the failure that his mother thinks he is. If he'd only gotten married and applied himself a little better, maybe he wouldn't be such an embarrassment to the family and maybe, just maybe, he could've grown up to be the successful, well-respected man that his brother Frances turned out to be.

This line of thought began last night when Catherine came home from work and told me that she needed to do leg strengthening exercises. She changed into her very sexy tights and jog bra (as women tend to do in such situations), came back into the living room, put on some random Madonna album (as women also tend to do in these situations) and began to read her workout instructions.

Suddenly she looked at me with somewhat of a blank star on her face. I'm supposed to start with a five minute warm-up on a spinning bike, she said. I don't have a spinning bike.

And, with nary another word spoke, she began to jog. In place. Going nowhere.

She tried her darndest not to look at me while I tried my hardest not to laugh. All I could do was stare in amazement. I hadn't seen anybody jog in place in decades. Probably since Coach Reznicki's PE class. (Rez-o was a douchebag).

I stared in disblief. The smirk turning to a grin turning to a smile turning to...

Catherine glanced over at me with one of those looks that says "What's your problem, chump?! You never see somebody jog in place before?!". And then she quickly looked away.

I really tried my hardest not to laugh, but, c'mon people, she's jogging in place! Finally, like a balloon that expanded beyond it's limit, Catherine burst out in hysterics.

I can't believe I'm jogging in place!! she spat out. You have to promise not to tell anybody about this!

You've got to be kidding, I replied. You're jogging in place!! Hell, I'm telling EVERYBODY!

But, alas, apparently jogging in place doesn't have the same cache when you're an adult as it did when you were a kid (assuming it had any cache as a kid). Within about two minutes, Catherine's jogging in place turned into endless laps between the living room and dining room. Keeping in mind, that the distance between the two extends about 10 feet. Yet somewhere amidst all of this nonsense, it got me thinking about my life.

As I've grown older, I've learned to despise running in place. I thrive on forward movement. I want to continue to grow, to move, to learn. If there's one thing that is guaranteed to chew me apart from the inside, it's the concept of standing still. Granted, I can lay on the couch and read just as well as the next guy. Put me in front of a TV and I'll stay potatoed there ad infinitum. But, believe it or not, part of that is about learning and growing.

The reason I love watching the Olympic Trials and the Tour de France and the Bass Master Classic and any other sport I can put my remote on, is because it ignites the fire of inspiration within me. Believe it or not, sitting on my ass and watching a couple of guys play billiards actually drives me forward. It helps me to be the best, most inspired person I can be in whatever I am doing.

And isn't this a reason for life - to be the person you want to be?

If nothing else, the purpose of life is about experiencing life. It's about capturing emotion and memories; about exploring and teaching and keeping the world spinning around. Life is about learning how to grow a tree from a seedling, so the next generation can grow a forest from the tree. It's about moving forward. It's not about getting to the finish line as much as moving away from the starting line. In life, there is no running in place.

And I suppose within that is how we take triathlon as the great analogy of life. Working hard, challenging ourselves, learning, growing, achieving. It's not about the time at the end, but the time we had getting to the end.

Let's keep moving forward.


Go Mom Go said...

Thank you for this, you are so right! There are so many times in life when frustration hits and those are the times when I am "just running in place".

Moving forward...one step at a time!

Karen said...

This the best post yet. Thanks. One step at a time. Slowly plodding forward.

ChrisM said...

Sorry Cat, but all I can picture is you in leg warmers and an off the shoulder sweater doin' your thang to "Maniac". Hilarious

katie b said...

one word - Amen...

thanks for that post, exactly what i've been feeling :)

Cat said...

omg! chris, when j. told me that he said i wore tights ... my eyes almost got stuck in the back of my head i rolled them so hard.

after i read the post this morning, i plotted my "comments" as i got ready for work ... and they all had a disclaimer stating that i was wearing YOGA PANTS and there was no jane fonda, braided headband involved.

oh the joys of dating a blogger.

Cat said...

oh and the other disclaimer was that the madonna album was "ray of light" ... one of her cooler albums and probably the last good one.

i'm not sayin' i'm embarrassed, i'm just sayin'!

Trihardist said...

I get that. I like watching billiards too. And poker. And golf. They're not very interesting, but seeing people at the very height of any skill set is very inspiring.

I like watching Project Runway and Top Chef for the same reason. Makes me want to go out and be better at what I do.

So does watching really hot women :-)