Friends, we share the same condition, an existence marked by similarity. We uniformly experience a constitution of existing in the here and the now. Our faces may never meet and our souls never connect. But together we walk; we walk this journey together. This is a journey, more eerily similar than any of us care to admit. This life is a pilgrimage, initiated with allure and wild-eyed determination. It is a shared excursion replete with landmines, mountaintop experiences, soul debilitating devastation of hopes lost, and the miles and miles of trail that offer neither exquisite beauty nor dark caverns of despair. It is simply the walk, the journey, a road to somewhere. And it is on our pilgrimage that we either lose ourselves or find our “being.”
I was a 25-year-old graduate student when I came across a sidewalk that had been permanently inscribed with the message: “Enjoy Being.”
Although the writer will always remain unknown, the messaging penetrated my soul and served as an instruction that has indelibly shaped my life. I’ve been on a quest since. This quest, simply stated, is to enjoy being. As I’ve journeyed and surveyed the minefield, this life, I’ve seen some friends blown to bits in the middle of it while others have chosen the safety of the perimeter and numbing comfort. I confess, I have chosen to run through the minefield, and although I am missing limbs from along the way, I am happy to report that I am holding the prize—contentment. Not society’s definition of contentment, not the frequently sermonized rat race dogma, but contentment.
As I have coached leaders, executives, clergymen, administrators, students, and the broken co-journeyers, one thing has become blatantly clear. I have taken note, listened, studied the ancients, and read my contemporaries; I’ve shared a cup of coffee with the homeless and destitute, and I’ve listened to the incredibly wealthy and the elderly in the twilight of their lives. I have had the incredible privilege of learning from my undergraduate and graduate students, and I have spoken intimately with pastors. I have listened to the pangs of loss from my beautiful soul mate and listened to the longings of my daughter. In all of this, there is an almost scandalous thread of similarity. We all seek to enjoy being.
The trail, for me, is much more than a philosophical reflection. It represents temporary freedom amongst the chaos. Running amidst the trees towering, the waters gurgling, and the slight, sweet smelling winds invigorates my soul. Many times on a long run, my hectic life is left at the trailhead, and as the pulse of the rhythm becomes as effortless as breathing, the binds and the strongholds of life gently fall away until I, just simply – enjoy being. Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Obviously Thoreau was not a runner.
“Every Man Dies. Not Every Man Really Lives.” – William Wallace
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