Success and No Medal

“Effort is good fortune,” Dr. Shoma Morita

Let me clarify

The world we live in does not support this maxim. We live in a results-oriented world, and we are expected to deliver if we want to keep our jobs, find success and win the medals. The second-best in the Olympics is popularly considered a loser. As you might imagine, this is not my thinking;  yet, this is our world.  However, the people I know are wonderful, accomplished, kind, generous, loving, and perfectly imperfect humans who co-exist with the entire catastrophe of the human condition, as Zorba states. Doing the best we can, most of the time, we live active, purposeful and joyful lives along with the sorrow, losses and mishaps that come with being born.

Japanese psychiatrist Dr. Shoma Morita was a realist. He observed that we cannot control results no matter how well-organized, brilliant, hard-working and healthy we are. Life happens. We get sick, people die young, accidents happen, an economy collapses, a new widget enters the scene, and a war starts and never seems to end. Results are not perfectly controllable by us. (you may not agree, but it is my experience when I look around)

However, our effort is controllable. What we do (in most cases) or where we put our effort is what we can control. Therefore, Morita suggested that we honour and celebrate our efforts. And learn from them as well. Obviously, the more effort that we pour into a task, the better our chances are of achieving the goal we set for ourselves. It just isn’t guaranteed.

In our family, my daughter and son-in-law always celebrated the tryouts. The fact that the kids would put themselves out there to practice and try to make the soccer or volleyball teams was honoured. Yes, it was rewarding and exciting when they made it, but it was not the most important thing because it wasn’t entirely controllable. But if they didn’t make it and still wanted to play, they practiced, learned, and tried again the next time.

Effort is good fortune, is a personal maxim that the world doesn’t recognize, but as an individual, it becomes a healthy and realistic way of living.

Race Week-end Ottawa

My daughter and grandson Rowan had trained for several weeks to run the 10K together. Yet, three weeks before the race, my grandson injured his foot at school and was not allowed to run for a month. Disappointing – absolutely! Was it controllable – no.

What happened next was that they sold their race bibs to a couple who wanted to run, but they couldn’t get tickets as they were sold out.  Rowan could still bike and row, and so he did. And they already plan to run the 10 K in September at a different race. During race weekend, they were cheering all the runners at the various cheering stations, as were 200,000 others from Ottawa. (not all at the same place, haha) In other words, we move on like most people we know. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, so we change our plans.

My 1/2 Marathon with my cousin Sonya

First of all, it was a perfect day. The best day of any race day in which I have participated. And I had the wonderful company of my cousin Sonya, which makes all the difference in a long walk or run. I have walked several 1/2 Marathons with Sonya, but this was our first since 2019 in Halifax. I was more invested in this walk than usual because I wanted to know what I could do as I prepared for Japan this fall.

The route had changed, and it was beautiful and doable. We both preferred it over past routes. There is, of course, that collective effervescence that happens when you are walking with all these other people, live bands along the way, people encouraging and cheering from the sidelines. It is fun. After the first 3 km, our family cheered us on and gave us hi-fives as we strode past them.

In short, all was well until about the 13th KM when my susceptibility to leg cramps began. As it always happens, this was not a surprise, but I could not walk them out this time. I could make it to the 14th KM by stops and starts, but I had to accept my limitations and stop. Otherwise, as a walker, we would be putting an unnecessary burden on the course and the first aid people. We did manage to walk an additional four KM to get off the course and to an area where my daughter could pick us up. I will tell you how in a minute.

Outcome –  we walked 18 km out of the 21 and didn’t cross the finish line. Sonya is the best walking partner anywhere. She could have finished, but she insisted on staying with me, and I am forever grateful. So, why do I declare this a success for myself?

What did I learn?

I was surprised that I was strong; my feet worked, my legs mostly worked, and I was not exhausted. I was confident we would reach the end, but we did not. Still, and more importantly, I enjoyed myself.

I recognized that I was not properly hydrated and that my personal bugaboo and electrolyte requirements were not met—it was my mistake and correctable.

I have never done stretching. Writing this sounds irresponsible, but it has never entered my mind. This is now firmly in my mind as I make a new plan.

I consulted with Chat GPT to develop a four-month reasonable training plan for an almost 78-year-old woman to prepare to walk the Kumano Kodo. ( walks, hills, cycling, and yes, stretching are part of it in the first draft, plus learning to walk efficiently with Nordic poles.)

I learned my cramps disappeared when I walked on the grass and dirt. This was a huge surprise. A bottle of Gatorade from the first aid person plus the grass was like a miracle. A stretch of grass ran alongside a part of the course, and the first aid person suggested I walk on it. I thought I was cured! But as soon as I had to return to the pavement, I faced the reality that I would not complete this half marathon.  However, that grass extended along an adjacent bike path and allowed me/us to proceed to an area four km away where my daughter could pick us up. Thank you, Guy, the first aid attendant, Sonya and Meghan.

This race was a success because it revealed my weaknesses four months before my Japan trip. I was unclear before this race about my endurance and discovered that it was not a problem. And the problem areas are things I can and will work on.

And why, you ask, is this Kumano Kodo so important to me? I cannot explain this, but when I return, I will be able to. For now, I will say it is a long-standing dream – a joyful pilgrimage, so to speak, with my daughter and eight Japanese friends.

Thank you for reading this.

Notes

1:) “Effort is good fortune” encourages us, regardless of what the world says.  And as author James Clear says: “We cannot control our luck—good or bad—but we can control our effort and preparation.”

2:) “When the music changes, so must the dance.” An African proverb

3:) I extend sincere condolences to a longtime reader of this blog whose husband recently died. Most of us want to hang on to the good things, especially our loved ones. There is nothing easy about letting go. A deep bow to you, dear G. I extend my condolences to your dear family.

ADRIFT by Mark Nepo

Everything is beautiful and I am so sad.
This is how the heart makes a duet of
wonder and grief. The light spraying
through the lace of the fern is as delicate
as the fibers of memory forming their web
around the knot in my throat. The breeze
makes the birds move from branch to branch
as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost
in the next room, in the next song, in the laugh
of the next stranger. In the very center, under
it all, what we have that no one can take
away and all that we’ve lost face each other.
It is there that I’m adrift, feeling punctured
by a holiness that exists inside everything.
I am so sad and everything is beautiful.

4:) With appreciation to all of my dear readers. I am so fortunate to know you, even those I have never met. With all my best wishes for your well-being and the courage you need to take the next step and the next step… Warmly, trudy

14 replies
  1. Patti+Morris
    Patti+Morris says:

    Oh Trudy … as always SO inspired! You’re spirit and resolution is indominable and inspiring! Such admiration!

    Reply
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      What a generous and lovely thing to write dear Kimmie. Thank you so very much. And you and your generation keep it going. With love,
      Trudy

      Reply

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