The day after sharing “Cozying Up to a Goal of Comfort,” I was reflecting on the idea of setting a goal of “feeling comfortable while running/exercising” when a new realization hit me. Setting a goal of only feeling comfortable might seem like lowering expectations. If you stop striving to grow, expand, and make more; and focus on maintaining a balanced equilibrium of work and rest, give and take, produce and consume; you might appear stagnant.
This isn’t the case, however. In order to be healthy, one must experience rhythm. The heart pulls in blood as well as pumping it out. We breathe in and breathe out. After our left foot is thrust forward, our right one swings past it. Once a hill is concurred, we can allow gravity to draw us downhill. Calling for a goal of comfort isn’t suggesting that our lives become murky ponds.
The popular American cult of productivity suggests we accumulate as much as possible, do more and more, always be viewed as someone who is growing. It is like a river that is dammed up to form a reservoir. The people responsible for the reservoir view the amount of water captured behind the dam as never being enough. They build the dam ever higher. The water behind the dam begins to cover the mountain tops. This water has ceased to be a helpful reserve, and begins flooding neighboring towns. The dam builders continue building. They now build the dam wider. It must span multiple mountain ranges. When will they be satisfied?
They ought to have allowed the river to flow over or through the dam. Let the water swell into a reserve to be used, but make sure that it has an outlet.
On this particular run I was feeling great! Not only was my breathing steady and controlled, but I was running fast. My first two splits had me trucking at sub 8 min./mile pace! When my phone announced 7 minutes and __ seconds per mile after 5 minutes of running, I was astonished.
This speed began to taper off, especially as my mind wandered, and I was okay with that. My focus was on how my body and breathing felt.
Then I rounded a bend in the trail, and I witnessed a gorgeous sunrise. Should I get out my phone and take a picture? I wondered to myself. If I do, my pace will be affected. I decided that it was worth capturing the image, so that I could see it again later.
As I got out my phone and opened the camera, I realized that I was weighing one goal’s importance over another; run fast or appreciate beauty in nature? Then, as the sun dawned, the idea of deciding to limit one’s goals to a level of comfort would take some resolve. You must discipline yourself to be open to pausing productivity. If you aren’t feeling good on a run, take it easy.
Remember, the goal is to feel comfortable. There is a degree of pain involved in conditioning one’s body and soul. With waxing and waning emotions, there will be ups and downs. I’m suggesting that we work on being okay with the downs, the ups, and the fact that there will be many times that we are right in the middle. It is okay to feel only okay. Get comfortable with the idea that you are NOT growing. Maintain a moderate life of motion, and your existence can be a healthy river, rather than damaging reservoir.