Writing this during the first day of school of my senior year. A weird feeling to be in the last year of my conventional schooling. And a weird/awesome thing happened recently too. I was checking my email this weekend and got an email from this dude in Chicago. He told me he just graduated high school and had run 2 50k's and one 50 miler. He asked me if I was going to stick with ultras in college, too. I thought it was amazing that he reached out to me and we chatted back and forth via email about ultrarunning, senior year, my podcast, and how I get all of the people I do on the show. We exchanged numbers and have been keeping in contact over the past few days, now I have someone to run with if I ever go to the Chicago area.
Life is crazy like that, especially if you work towards what you truly desire. Not that I planned on this random guy contacting me, but it is a beneficial fruit from my labors on the website and podcast. And those things have given more than I could ever imagine. The opportunity to become friends with my role models and heroes, the ability to learn from great people, to interact with people who follow what I do, and so much more. This hard work has played a large part in shaping my identity.
At school I am known as the "hippy," as the guy with the long hair who runs crazy distances. The hippy vegan. The plant-eater. Tree hugger. While those things could sum up who I am if you wanted to, they're not who I truly am. I'll never know a perfect me, because that's impossible. But, all I can and will do is try my hardest, through all difficulties, to find my true and honest self that will allow for the life most fulfilling. It is about striving for your better, not ever reaching perfection. If you focus on practice makes perfect you're focusing wrong. You must focus on practice makes better.
Just today I was talking with a friend about video games and how I do not play them anymore. I said to him that they're a waste of time and he agreed, surprisingly. He told me that he's only spending like 5 minutes on each game on his phone when he goes on his phone. But, doesn't that add up? It sure does. While he may talk big and say that they're a waste, is he following through with his words? Do his words become actions? No, sir. Say he has 4 games he plays on his phone and even though he only spends 5 minutes on each, which may seem like cutting back to him, that's 20 minutes of wasted time every time he decides to go on his phone. And this is the same kid who would tell me he doesn't have time to meditate or eat well. The time to turn words into actions, to be healthy, to follow through, is there. It's always there, you just need to find it. That's the trick. What is important and what isn't?
To me long hair sets me apart in a unique and identifiable way. It is a marker of my juxtapositional personality. It represents the fact that I am casual and happily carefree enough to not obsess about how I look and it represents the fact that I am willing and committed to putting in the extra work that comes with the proper care of long hair. It is who I am, but again not all who I am. Life is full of layers and depth. That is, I think, why it is so incredibly interesting. It opens us up to the idea that what we see on the surface is not necessarily what is inside. That can be seen in everyone. As the adage goes, "Never judge a book by its cover."
And that is why when it comes to health and commitments. The people who are the most unhealthy, who are mortally obese, or even simply overweight, who cannot commit to change, are the ones who cannot find themselves. Weight issues, mental issues, drug issues, alcoholic issues, and social issues cannot be explained or excused away. Let me put this very simply. YOU EITHER COMMIT OR YOU DON'T. There's no middle ground, no excuses, no leeway. Life is binary even with its depth. Yes or no? What will it be for you? Because if it's anything but an answer yes to positive, lasting change then there's a problem.
The notion of love who you are when there is more fat than life in you and depression is more common a word to you than the idea of fresh air and beauty, is pointless. If we separated out the ingredients to a Big Mac and saw the yellow oil and completely ground, liquidy beef that makes it up would you love that? If you cut off a chunk of the fat your supposed to "love" would you love the slab of useless flesh that it was? No you wouldn't. You would be disgusted. Just as you would be if you found out that the government or a company of some sort was force feeding millions of people cyanide. We are disgusted by the Holocaust right? Well the difference between that reality and this one is that no one's force feeding you the sugar, bread, meat, eggs, milk, oil, fat, and salt that is maybe not as effective a killer as cyanide, but far more dangerous. Instead of bringing immediate death. Your execution is drawn out over years. Years where the scale rises, the pills fill your countertop, your gut blocks the view of your feet, beer and wine numbs the lies you don't want to face, and money and a useless job become more important than happiness.
In 80, more or less, short years you're supposed to grow up, accomplish everything you want to, and die. Die and then have a funeral where people that didn't really even like you that much to begin with will go and cry and subsequently leave. And in a few short years, or even months, how many will remember you? How many? How will, when faced with that prospect, you look back on your life and say yes I did it, I accomplished and lived the most truly fulfilling life that I could? You won't. Because, right now a childhood of fickle parenthood, college years of poisoning partying, 40 years of poison food and a constrictive, boring job, ending in a gold watch, a few years of saddened retirement, and finally that fated and inevitable thought back on what you have done, all seems to be the life we want to live. That is what we are told to live. Life in a bottle of Prozac and Bud Light is what is marketed to us.
Now maybe those aren't your vices, but there is and always will be room for improvement. Now if you can find and will find it within yourself to make that positive, lasting change then it is your duty, above all else, to make that change. To be that example within your group so that they too can find their trail and follow it forever.
So get out there! I grow out my hair, but you do whatever you need to do to find yourself, your path, and your honestly fulfilling life! Go be the example.
Thank you so much.