Monday, March 19, 2012

Going Round and Round

As I write this, I’m sitting on the balcony of the room on the boat as my wife and I enjoy our first cruise.  When June 20 gets here, we will be celebrating 20 years of marriage.  We are traveling now simply because the arrangements worked out better for us.  Twenty years and a nice vacation are things to celebrate with joy. 

Last night I slept nearly nine hours.  Every once in a while I get a really good night’s sleep.  Last night I barely even tossed and turned during that nine hours.  I woke up at about seven hours, went immediately back to sleep, and then felt much better when I woke up “for real” at 7 AM.   A time by which I have normally been up, worked some, ran some, and stopped at the grocery store on more mornings than not.

Why do I call today’s entry “round and round”?  Well, when I got up, my wife and I had a little breakfast after which we went for our respective workouts.  She did spin and turned out to be the only one who showed up for the class.  She got quite a workout.  I ran for about 40 minutes and then did 20 minutes of elliptical.

The running was on a track that mixes with a mini golf course and a small basketball court on the highest level of the boat.  The track is—116 yards around.  For anyone who has ever seen the standard high school or college quarter mile track (which is 440 yards around), you can appreciate just how short this is. 

So, my 40 minute run was at best approximately 5 miles.  I may have counted the 76 laps correctly or I may not.  Either from simply boredom or from trying to dodge young kids and even some adults who were simply unaware that the thin blue area around the golf course was supposed to be a track.

What do I think about when I go around the same small track so many times?  Mostly how many more I have to go and how fast I’m running.  The same things I generally think about wherever I’m running.

But the round and round is a great thing to think about both with respect to part of the serenity prayer and for life in general.  The serenity prayer asks God to give a person the courage to make a change when a chance is necessary.  But how many of us actually do that?  Ho may of us make changes when they are needed?  How many of us can get out of emotional, spiritual, and physical habits that lead us to places that we don’t always like to get to places that feel better.  That are better. 

It is a constant struggle for many of us.

People complain about being too much of something.  Too heavy.  Too much in debt.  Too busy.  To overworked.  Some of that is beyond our control.  But a lot is not.  A lot is within our control.  We complain because we feel as though we are trapped on a path that just goes round and round that we cannot get off.

A colleague wrote on his FB page the other day that boredom seems to be his long run equilibrium.  I don’t speculate why for other people.  Perhaps it has to do with choices.  Perhaps it has to do with what he defines as boredom.  From one economist to another, I could say “a person has just the amount of boredom they choose to have base on all the alternatives and their preferences.”   In other words, to some degree, people end up going round and round because they choose to.  Because they don’t want to or don’t feel comfortable taking a tangential path off the track they are on and going just round and round.

I don’t like to speculate on others’ motivations as I have a hard enough time speculating why for things I do myself.  What I try to make sure of for myself, however is that when there is a need for change (as in getting started on exercise again six years ago, as in thinking about my career development, as in figuring out which projects to move forward and which to finally leave behind, and as in adapting my parenting to each of my three kids) that I am ready, willing, and able to make thoughtful change when it is needed.  That I take the new paths when they are needed.  That I either expand the size of my track so that even if I am going round and round, I only see the same point every once in a while, or that I don’t feel like I am on a track going round and round at all. 

There are some parts of my life where I really don’t feel as though I’m going round and round.  Others where I do quite often.  I suppose as part of my ongoing reflection I really need to think most about the paths that are just round and round.  Am I making the same errors over and over?  And if so, how do I finally change them.  And how do I manage the interacting, overlapping, paths that I have to mange?

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