Life is hard. Life is really hard. Sometimes, life is damn near impossible. Just the daily grind of surviving is cause for celebration at times. It’s easy to celebrate winning the big game or setting a new PR or finally receiving that promotion and accompanying raise. But what about just showing up… what about the perseverance it takes to maintain and not regress? Why don’t we celebrate life’s smaller victories as fervently as the larger ones?
We have so many demands for our time and attention. We are expected to accomplish more with less time. Our phones, while serving as incredible marvels of technology and something I would not wish to live without, tether us to always be within reach. We can press a button, speak a question, and have the answer provided for us. Years ago, this simple 5 second act would require an hour of time at least and a journey to your local library.
With all that we do every day, have we forgotten just how impressive our mundane can be? Some of you got two kids ready in the morning for day care while simultaneously getting yourself ready for work. Some of you went and ran 6 miles before the sun came up. Some of you litigated a child molester to justice and some of you designed high pressure turbines for nuclear power plant generators. And what did you call all of those accomplishments?
You called it Tuesday.
Dude, your Tuesday was epic. You solved problems. You rallied against injustice. You instilled values into others. You took care of yourself. You prepared yourself to do it all over again tomorrow.
But that was just a day in the life, wasn’t it? You merely did what was expected of you. Another day, another dollar. Did you stop and smell the roses? Did you acknowledge the little things that bring happiness?
Now I’m not one for everyone getting a participation ribbon so no one’s feelings are hurt. Life is hard. Some toughness must be taught. But to think that only momentous moments are moments neglects the fact that life is made up of minute moments and usually these miniscule moments are life’s major moments. Maybe you didn’t thrive today, but dammit you survived.
An extraordinary task and a normal task could very well be the same task, just from a different perspective. Mull that thought for a moment. Let it sink in. And then, stop selling yourself short for all the amazing things that you do.
Consider the following. Which is the more impressive, the more heroic, the more worthy of celebration and adoration?
The doctor who performed successful brain surgery or the doctor who successfully treated a kid’s cold?
The police officer who foiled an armed robbery or the cop that stopped a drunk driver?
The student who brings her grades from all Fs to all Cs or the lady that keeps her all-A streak going?
The blogger that posted an award-winning recipe with accompanying photo or the one who used his blog to exorcise some demons?
The guy who runs his first marathon or the guy who runs his 10th?
The woman who loses 100 pounds and regains her living mobility or the gal who toils in the gym every day to maintain her fitness?
The wide receiver that catches the touchdown or the offensive lineman that made the key blitz pickup block that gave the quarterback time to throw the ball?
On first glance, it’s the first choice every time. That’s the glamorous choice. The sexy choice. The seemingly easy choice. Of course it is more impressive to lose 100 pounds than to simply maintain weight. Of course brain surgery is way more remarkable than curing a snotty nose. But really, aren’t the seconds in the above equally as worthy of adoration as the first?
We have been conditioned to only accept the extraordinary, but what about when the ordinary IS extraordinary? Why do we sell ourselves short time and time again? Yes, watching CrossFit champs snatch 245 pounds on the latest Team Series competition is quite impressive… but so is watching an inexperienced lifter struggle with and succeed in snatching 115 pounds. Perspective.
Celebrate the grind. When you’re out doing your thing, remember that your small successes are still undoubtedly, unquestionably, undeniably successes. Olympians can only win gold every four years. Yet, they are training the 1460 days between those chances.
You can’t PR every day. Hell, you can’t always be better than yesterday. It’s true. But life is not a linear progression upwards. There are peaks and valleys. And yes, some of those peaks are more like anthills. Still, with every hill, there is a crest.
This isn’t Ricky Bobby; there is no if you’re not first, you’re last in life. Some days second place is perfectly acceptable. Wire-to-wire winners are rare. How many of you entertained the idea of Mr. Froning not winning the 2014 Games when he wasn’t at the top of the leaderboard? I’m raising my hand.
Persevere. Success breeds success. Keep your eyes open for your successes. Be mindful that a weight you move with ease or an unsatisfactory race time for you could be a long term goal for another person. A routine job to you may be near impossible for someone else. Perspective.
When you show up, you’re doing better than most. When you don’t give up, you’re doing better than most. When you finally lay down for bed at night and recount all you packed into your waking hours, you probably did better than most. So smile, nod your head at your accomplishments, pat yourself on the back… and rest up to do it all again. Because that was Tuesday and you now have Wednesday to go out and conquer.