One thing that I have become aware of is how running has brought me to appreciate the wilderness. It gets me outside and makes me confront whatever I may find out there. But, I suppose, if I’m being totally honest, I’m referring to an inner wilderness that is much harder to define. Confronting what comes from within is always harder than confronting what comes from outside. Underneath all the composure that comes from living in a world of civilization and tact, there lives in all of us a wilderness which is not so easily reigned in. This emerges when everything else is stripped away.
In the Bible, Jesus is driven into the wilderness and tempted before his ministry starts. The Gospel of Mark is very ambiguous about what that looks like, saying that Jesus was tempted by Satan (read, The Accuser) and was with the wild animals. I think whenever we confront The Accuser in our lives, it is a sure sign of confronting that wilderness within us. It’s the voice that says we aren’t good enough, we don’t belong, and we should just give up. Once that voice ingrains itself into our minds enough, we begin to believe it. But, when it’s confronted in the wilderness of our very self, it seems to get even louder.
That is the wilderness that I begin to appreciate the most when I run. Once I start to feel those accusations, I know I’m reaching the end of myself and I will found out who I really am. It’s when you push past where you think you can, push past the voices that tell you aren’t good enough to keep going, that you can see who you really are. You discover a wilderness within you that is at your core, who you are, and what you’re capable of. It feels miserable but, at the end, you’ve discovered something about yourself that you couldn’t otherwise.
Today starts the beginning of an extended marathon training program for me. If it goes as planned, my program has me qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I’m not sure I believe I can, but that’s the wilderness. That’s why I’m going to try. Because there’s no shame in not qualifying, but there is shame in not trying because those voices tell me I can’t. There is no shame in bonking and burning out, but there is in refusing try because you don’t think you can.
So…here goes nothing. Into the wilderness!
Administrative note: Sorry I didn’t post at all last week. My wife and I welcomed our newest child, a healthy baby boy, into the world. No offense, but all the readers in the world can’t take the place of my family. I hope you had a blessed week anyway!