"As a nation, we have ideas of what success looks like. Some would say that it looks like impeccable attire. Nice ride. Spacious home. Six figures. I am guessing that my mystery runner, like me, has none of these luxuries but I could be wrong."
It’s a blessing to write at 4:30 am. The house is quiet and the stars are brilliant. In this hour of reflection and contemplation, I can share some advice about success:
Don’t worry about it.
Yep. That’s what I said.
It has taken me 51 years of self-induced stress and countless to do lists to come to that conclusion. With prayer and meditation, I now focus on my new meaning of success. Instead of worrying about success as it’s defined, I have learned to concentrate on what makes me feel alive.
Family and friends
Frequently, I get gentle reminders to stay present in my new approach to success. These gifts remind me to just keep going.
Every day, on my way into work, in varying weather, I see him.
He is a man who looks to be in his late fifties. His attire resembles that of Rocky Balboa, circa 1976. Faded Hanes sweats. Loose Hoodie. His belly is evident under his hoodie and his sneaks are black and unremarkable. I see many runners around my neighborhood. Typically, their legs are encased in Lululemon or New Balance prints. Their neon sneaks catch my attention.
He is not your typical runner. Each day, as sure as the sun rises, where the asphalt takes its first curb on Scotch road, just beyond the Hopewell Township building, he is there, running. His pace is slow. His form is not one of an athlete. There is not much shoulder along that corner and I worry about him as he runs against the traffic in faded grays.
These days, I find myself looking for him. On days when meetings take me on different roads, in different directions, I wonder if he is there, running. Determined. I wonder how far he is running. Where did he begin? Where is he heading and why does he run?
If a shoulder existed there on Scotch Road, I would stop my car. I would get out and I would shake his hand and thank him. For me, this stranger, although without pomp and circumstance, is one of my heroes.
As a nation, we have ideas of what success looks like. Some would say that it looks like impeccable attire. Nice ride. Spacious home. Six figures.
I am guessing that my mystery runner, like me, has none of these luxuries but I could be wrong.
I am guessing that he runs for other reasons than the perfect heart-rate or mile time, but I could be wrong.
I am guessing that he runs because it makes him feel alive and I hope that I am right.
This stranger reminds me that success in anything does not have a look or an image. It means you can do whatever you put your mind to.
While raising our children, my husband Benton and I stressed the following about their success:
Do what you want to do, but whatever that is, give it your all.
If you want to be a janitor, be a proud janitor. If you want to be a writer, read everything you can. If you want to be a nurse, lead with compassion and treat every patient as a grandparent. Don’t think that you deserve anything. You don’t. You get what you give.
Remember to be humble, polite, punctual, flexible and grateful.
On Christmas day, my great -niece Raquel, age 19 called and asked if she could come visit and possibly stay with us. Slowly, she moved in her belongings and what was an empty nest for one year became filled with a silly, messy, funny and nocturnal teen. We now get to watch as she flourishes, in school, at work and in life.
We find ourselves repeating the same maxims of years before when our children were teens. She too is probably rolling her eyes when we are out of sight. I can’t wait to celebrate her college graduation in a few years. I know the stresses that life puts on young adults to be successful in all things. There are many more requirements placed on children and teens than when I was that age. I asked her to secure her major by addressing the same questions we asked our children: What do you do when you don’t have to do anything? What are you naturally good at? What makes your heart beat? What makes time pass and your mind peaceful? Answer those questions honestly and BE YOU, the vocation will follow.
When something is too hard, there is always another way. -Charlie, Dory’s dad
Just keep swimming. Just keep boxing. Just keep running and success, as you define it, will be yours.