By Paul Semendinger, Ed.D.
Note: This passage is not about baseball. I am sharing it here, as an extra article today, because many have told me that this passage has inspired them and I want to share it with this audience as well.
I wrote this passage on December 30, 2022. The next day, yesterday, I did achieve my goal.
This passage can also be found at www.drpaulsem,.com.
One day. Just one more day. One day to go…
For a long time, the better part of a decade (at least), I had entertained the idea of running every single day for an entire year. In most years, I rationalized that it was a bad idea. I figured it would become burdensome. I figured it would get in the way of everything else I was trying to accomplish.
Some years I thought the idea was just plain stupid.
And, a few times, I did try. Once I made it about two weeks. Another time I made it to mid-February hating almost every aspect of the quest.
But that didn’t make the idea go away…
I was also frightened of the monumental task to have to wake up each day and run. The idea of it was daunting and scary and enormous.
I didn’t want to get all-in, only to fail. I wondered how I would feel if I made it to June… or August… or November and then had to miss a day for any number of reasons.
The smarter thing, I reasoned, at least most years, was to not even try.
Life is easier when we don’t try.
It is always easier to not try than to try. When we try, we set ourselves up for failure.
When we try, we have to face the fact that we will often fail.
It’s not fun to fail. So we often don’t try.
And when we don’t try, we lose.
We lose because we don’t find ways to grow. We lose because we don’t gain new experiences. And we lose because we don’t learn from our failures.
Good enough never is. But it’s always so easy to just do things the way we’ve always done them. “Good enough got me this far,” we reason.
Unless my life falls completely apart before early tomorrow morning (I plan to get that last run in early to finish the job), I will have accomplished something that, to me at least, is extremely impressive – having the focus, courage, determination, and tenacity to run every single day for an entire year.
Just like when I first became a teacher, and a principal, and when I finished my first novel, and my first non-fiction book, and when I started this blog and my Yankees site… and when I ran my first marathon… and so many more situations and processes, as I set out to accomplish something, I learned a ton along the way.
I learned that even as a man in his mid-50’s, that I can still accomplish difficult physical tasks.
I learned to run in the cold and the heat. I learned to enjoy running in the rain.
I did a lot of miles on my treadmill. I learned to find ways to conquer the boredom that comes with countless hours of running in the same spot day-after-day-after-day.
I learned to do something difficult even when I didn’t want to.
I learned that life begins each and every day. And I learned to plan for the next day by being smart about the current day. When I was a principal, I would often tell the students (especially when I had older students) to “live each day with tomorrow in mind.” Yes, we must live each day to the fullest (in many ways), but we also have to live and behave in manners that allow our tomorrows to be good days as well.
I will always believe that the best day to come is tomorrow – and I’ll always work to make that true. I can’t change the past, but I can certainly work to make each of my tomorrows the best they can be.
I learned to improvise and make do with what I had at the moment. Wherever I was, I had to run. There was no question of that.
I learned that excuses are just reasons for not doing something. There is always a good reason to not do something. In fact there are hosts of good reasons. The key is to push past all of them to focus on the task at hand.
But I also learned that this quest was only part of who I am and who I have to be. I still needed to be present for my family, for my friends, for my church, for my baseball teams. I had a job to do (well, until I retired) and then a new position as an adjunct professor teaching a class I never taught before. I had a book I had to complete and a second book to contribute to, all with strict deadlines. There is always a great deal of work that has to get done. I needed to make time for my runs, but I needed, even more, to see be available for everything else that life has to offer for good, bad, or otherwise.
I learned to run when my back hurt and when I didn’t think I could even move at all. I learned that even when you don’t think you can…you often can.
When I run alone, which is most often, I find the time to pray during each mile. I’ll reach 1,700 miles this year. That’s a lot of prayers and a lot of talking with God.
When I run alone, I often find that I’m not running alone.
In addition to running, I had to find time each day to write about the run, the process, and all of that. This quest I was on will be a book. I hope it will be ready for publication in 2023 or 2024. My task is now to take these musings – my writings and my notes, and formulate them all into a motivational story that will inspire others to set their own goals and find ways to achieve them. We can all do more. And we can all do things that we never thought possible.
I learned that there might not be a worse feeling in the world than quitting. As the days became weeks and the weeks became months, and winter turned to spring – and spring became summer, I just knew that I had to complete this task. I wouldn’t let anything short of an injury or an unexpected life disaster to get in the way of finishing. There would be no tomorrow if I didn’t accomplish today.
I had to accomplish every single today.
As as each day’s run was accomplished, I knew that I was that much closer to my goal. I didn’t often doubt that I’d get it done. I just knew I had to. I also knew that if I stopped, I’d be right back at that same point on January 1 of the next year determined, once-and-for-all, to succeed in this quest I dreamed up a long long time ago.
I didn’t love every run. I hated some. I often counted the months and days until the task was over.
I learned that even though I looked forward, almost from the start, to this quest being completed, that I am now somewhat sad that I’ve gotten to the end.
Tomorrow is the big day. I’m glad this task will be over.
But in some ways, I’m not.
January will bring with it new tasks and new goals and new dreams.
And I’ll always wonder what the next day will bring.