The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start. ~John Bingham (“The Penguin”)
I’m what you would call an “adult onset” athlete.
Sure, when I was a kid I was active – in sports, swimming, exploring the outdoors. But once college and law school hit I became essentially sedentary – a lifestyle that continued when I was a young professional.
Then suddenly, at 30, I picked up running – almost by accident. A friend was doing a “couch to 5k” program and wanted company for runs on the Chicago lakefront.
She lasted a week.
I couldn’t stop.
I found running … transformative. Left to myself and my thoughts, with no phone (or at the time, blackberry) to reach me – I was completely free.
Perhaps the most liberating part of becoming a runner was that for the first time in a very long time I was completely and utterly new at something. I had no idea what I was doing, but that was fun of a different sort, and it became clear early on that this new “sport” of mine required only one thing: commitment.
Nobody cared if you were fast (in fact, the most entertaining runners were slow); nobody cared how long you’d been running, what you did for a living, where you lived or what you looked like.
They just cared about whether you showed up.
I could do that.
It also became clear that you’d get better – faster, stronger, more fit – if you did just a little bit regularly.
I could do that, too!
I was completely hooked. I immersed myself in running culture, and started reading books about all things running. One in particular still occupies a special place for me.
It was written by John Bingham – also known as The Penguin due to his signature running gait – who at 43 years old was an overweight couch potato with a pack-and-a-half-a-day smoking habit. But one day he just got tired of himself. So he got up, and ran down to the end of his driveway and ran back.
It wasn’t pretty.
But he didn’t give up. He just … kept going.
Day after day he just laced up his shoes and gave it a go. Soon enough he was running past his mailbox, then still farther, and farther, until by now he’s completed over 40 marathons, written quite a few bestselling books, and inspired hundreds of thousands of people like me, and perhaps you.
He had the courage to look around, decide he wasn’t happy with what he saw … and do something about it.
Sound familiar? (That should sound familiar…)
I certainly didn’t realize when I first laced up running shoes just how much having a beginner’s mindset was going to impact the rest of my life. From the day I started running, trying something brand new – or even completely changing my life’s direction – just wasn’t so scary.
It was just … something new. Something I hadn’t yet tackled – hadn’t yet learned – hadn’t yet accomplished.
But I knew I could. Because I had recently been a beginner again.
I’m not sure, but maybe that’s why I dove headlong into the Resistance so quickly. Because I’m no longer afraid of being the new kid, of looking silly or out of place, of not knowing the right etiquette, or the right people, or the right things to say.
Because I know I’ll figure it out along the way. And I’ll probably find some excellent new friends in the process, learn a lot, and improve my life.
All because I had the courage to learn how to be a beginner when I was 30 years old.
Like The Penguin says – the miracle isn’t that you finish – it’s that you have the courage to start.
I’m so glad you had the courage to start. I’m so glad that you’re still going.
I’ll always be right here, cheering you on.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the week of May 28, 2019
Tuesday: It’s Summer – Promote Summer Meals Programs
School is out for many parts of the country – which is cause for celebration for a lot of kids, but a source of anxiety for others. It’s a sad fact that food insecurity increases during summer, when kids aren’t getting meals through their school system. The Summer Food Service Program is a federally funded, state administered program that partners with sites to provide free meals to children between 0-18 years old in low-income areas.
You can get involved by promoting the program, volunteering at a site, or – if you’re part of an organization – starting a site of your own! You can find the sites and programs that are operating near you at https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks
Wednesday: Plan a Field Trip!
This week, the House and Senate are not in session – so it’s a good time to reach out to district offices and (hopefully) meet with congresscritters. No doubt there will be fundraisers and events held by your members of Congress and Senators – so check their facebook pages, twitter feeds and websites for information about the events they’re planning.
You can also check the Town Hall Project (https://townhallproject.com/#events-table) for events in your area.
Thursday: Promote Peace
This week we celebrated Memorial Day – a day set aside for remembering those who have fought for our country, and those who fought alongside them. War is nothing to enter into lightly. The sacrifices of our service members and their families are real – they don’t just materialize on Memorial Day when flags are on front porches.
So one of the best ways to honor their sacrifice is to not let the Trump Administration get away with baiting Iran into a war that Iran doesn’t want and that won’t serve our interests in an attempt to boost his poll numbers with a “wag the dog,” or “rally around the flag” war.
First, read this *excellent* article by framing expert George Lakoff: Trump rules by crisis, and now he wants a war. Can we stop it before it starts?
Then, take Lakoff’s advice. (1) Call it out (say that Trump’s war would be a trumped up war to boost his image) (2) Don’t buy the lies they will spin about why they’re starting a war (remember the false intelligence used to justify the Iraq invasion?) and (3) Get ready to protest if it comes to that.
Friday: Promote Peace Part Two: Congressional War Powers
The President of the United States is NOT supposed to be able to go out and pick fights and cause wars whenever s/he wants to. That’s supposed to be Congress’s job. Unfortunately, they signed that job over to the executive in the early 2000s in the post-9/11 days to address terrorist threats. The problem is, the executive branch has taken that baton and run like hell.
With Trump in the White House, we have a serious, serious problem. Yes, Congress isn’t in session, but that doesn’t mean we can’t call and talk to the district offices. So this week give them a buzz and let them know what you think!
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. Please ask the Senator/Congress(wo)man to co-sponsor S. 1039/HR 2354 to deny Trump the authority to go to war with Iran without Congressional approval. It’s important that Congress reclaims its Constitutional duty to declare war to make sure our country doesn’t go to war based upon the decision of one person.