“What did I accomplish during isolation?”
I’m sure that I will one day look back at the days of Covid-19 and ask myself this question.
I hope I will be able to say that I did more than simply increase my Netflix intake… although I’m not going to pretend that this didn’t happen at times.
But what did I do? What did I learn? What did I accomplish?
Well, if nothing else, I’d like to say that I wrote this 3-part blog about a very meaningful experience that came as a result of my altered circumstances… and it all had to do with a mountain I was living on.
So, here’s part 1. The second and third installments will follow shortly. Enjoy!
Man Vs. Mountain - Part 1
In March, I joined the international exodus from on-location workspaces to home office, and suddenly my wife and I found ourselves cooped up with a high-energy toddler… and we thought “there’s got to be a better way!”
So we took off to my parent’s acreage just outside of Kelowna, BC. I think situations like this are exactly why grandparents were invented!
Within the first couple days, I made a resolution. “I’m going to run!” I had decided that this quarantine time was a perfect opportunity to get more exercise. At that point, “more” exercise didn’t actually require much, but I wanted to be more active. And the location was perfect! My parents’ driveway is a long, steep incline that meets up with a mountain road that I could run up for several miles.
So I got ready!
All the ambition in the world.
And off I went.
I started running. I was putting The Flash to shame. I was about to take over the universe… until about 30 feet past the end of the driveway. All of the sudden, the reality of my age, my lazy lifestyle, and my unrealistic expectations all teamed up to hit me like a ton of bricks.
I slowed right down to a walk.
“Interval training” I told myself. I’ll just walk for a bit, then run, then walk… and so on.
In reality, I spent most of the time walking. I was super discouraged.
“Am I really this out of shape?”
“Am I this incapable of putting one foot in front of another at a decent pace?”
“Am I actually just dying of Covid?”
I almost gave up altogether. But I decided I needed to keep running. So, the next day I took off again and something awesome happened. I ran further than the day before. Not much further, but still, I made a tiny sliver of progress. I felt a modicum of encouragement surge through my mind.
The next day I made it even further. After a few weeks, I was running over 4 miles with an elevation gain of just over 1,000 feet—results that I never would have expected, especially after that first day.
The crazy thing is how close I was to just giving up completely after that first run. I felt pathetic and incapable.
I think this is what we often do when we try new or unfamiliar things. We give up easily because we’re not instantly good at them. And that’s a shame.
When I was touring in Kiros, there were many moments when kids with big dreams of starting a band and becoming Bieber-level rock stars would ask us how to write good songs. My first response was always, “I don’t know. If we ever figure it out, I’ll let you know!”
But then I would tell them honestly, “Start by writing the crappy songs that are in your head right now. Your first songs won’t be chart-toppers. They won’t even be good. But you need to get through them in order to get to the good ones.”
It’s really the same with everything in life. There’s one common outcome when you try something for the first time. You suck at it. Always. We’re inevitably bad at stuff we haven’t gotten good at yet. And it’s so easy to feel frustrated by that. Why can’t we just excel at everything we want to instantly? Because we’re bad at everything until we change that.
We literally start out as a babies who are terrible at every single thing. Imagine if babies gave up on walking after the first time they tried because they were so bad at it. We’d be a society of human paper weights!
So, there it is. The mountain taught me some valuable lessons during self-isolation, and the first of those was all about perseverance. What a powerful commodity perseverance is. It’s what makes the impossible possible. It’s what takes us from incapable to capable. It’s what helps us look past our doubts and discouragement and envision a future full of bright possibilities.
It taught me that it’s okay to be bad at stuff.
One day you’ll be a bit less bad at it.
And one day, you might even be great… if you persevere.