There used to be a popular expression ‘In the Long Run’ (heck, the Eagles even made an album with that name in 1979), but isn’t an expression I hear much anymore. So when I was out shopping this weekend (my wife says I ‘have a problem’ with grocery shopping … not denying it). Anyway, I heard two women in their 30s joking around and one of them use the expression ‘in the long run’, and the other say ‘you are ALWAYS thinking about the long run’.
Not passing judgment, but it seemed very unlikely that the ‘long run’ she was referring to was the same type I had just completed an hour before. It made me think about the distinction between the two, and I spent much of my long run Sunday contemplating the differences between ‘LIVING for the long run’ and ‘living FOR the long run’.
Confused yet? Let me explain – one is looking forward to the immediate, the other takes a long view. Here are some thoughts.
Living FOR The Long Run
I have lamented about how we are in March and I feel that I have hated the ‘Polar Vortex’ sub-zero cold so much that I have wished away the months. That really bothers me, because life is too short to not make the most of every day.
But when it comes to runners, I know a lot of people who spend each week looking forward to getting out for a long run on the weekend, and get really upset if something comes along to mess up those plans. I have seen them miss events for their kids, rearrange other things and basically put everything else second in order to get that long run in when they planned.
It isn’t just a ‘runner thing’ – I know a lot of people who do similar things, such as:
– Wishing away their college years because they have a girl/boyfriend and are going it long distance … so rather than enjoying the now they are constantly looking to the next visit, next break, next summer and end of school.
– Not taking medicine / getting rest just so you can go to a concert.
– Wishing away the time when they are engaged before they get married.
– Skipping a huge event for family or life-long friends to hang out with a new friend.
– Thinking all week about the weekend.
– Doing a race while not fully recovered from injury because you need to accomplish something ‘now’.
– Once married, beginning to focus exclusively on ‘the baby’. And the next one … or getting ‘the girl’ or ‘the boy’.
– Focusing on getting your child to walk, talk, read, go to school, and on and on …
– Describing yourself as ‘in your thirties’ when you are 29, ‘pushing 50’ when you are 42, and so on.
– Railing against any system that wants you to wait as being ‘conservative and outdated’.
– Looking at every boy/girl your child brings home as ‘marriage material’.
– Spending your work week thinking towards retirement, when you have years to go.
All of these things have something in common: they fail to live in the now. Or, they ONLY live in the now. Either way, they look at life with such a narrow vision that the majority of consequences are ignored.
LIVING for The Long Run
The expression ‘in the long run’ used to mean a long view of things, similar to how I hear people use the expression ‘in the end’ now. For me it is the recognition of ‘life as marathon’.
Of course, it is easy to look and think that taking the long view ignores the short view – but that is not true. It is that it balances the now against the future. Here are a few thoughts:
– If running a pace 15 seconds per mile will get you a PR or a BQ, but pose an almost certain injury threat … you won’t do it.
– Making dreams come true for your kids might mean scaling back your own plans for a few years.
– If you need to miss a whole week of running because of the chance to see family or friends, you do it.
– If a parade your child is walking in gets reschedule over your long run … you stand in the cold/rain/whatever and wave at your child for the 15 seconds they can see you.
– You pick your battled at work, home, and everywhere else.
– Trying new things with the one you love is worth it 100% of the time – even if it doesn’t work out, it was an investment.
We all want to be around for as long as possible and to live as fully as we can. The concept of ‘having it all’ is insulting, because life is full of compromises and we need to make the best of all of the situations we are given. To do this, we set priorities – and guess what, even if you don’t do it explicitly, you are still doing it through your actions. The best we can do is to set up our priorities so they balance the things we NEED to do with what we WANT to do in a way that makes us happy now and can make us the most happy in the future.
So What is the Motivation?
Am I saying that there shouldn’t be short term focus in our lives? Of course not, how else would we ever get anywhere. I am saying that we must understand our short term choices in the context of the world around us and how we want to live the rest of our lives. When we are in our twenties it is natural to NOT think about being in our fifties … yet we must also be mindful that we are setting the course that will play out later in life.
I took the image at top while out running Sunday – I did some punishing hills, and when I got to the top of a very steep one, I looked back and realized you couldn’t see the approach, only the top and distance. Was it steep, curvy, windy, or what? We each have a path to take, and seeing the outcome doesn’t always tell us the path taken.
So how do you live your life?