I’ve got a cup of french pressed coffee sitting by me and my window is open, letting a slowly warming breeze into my room. The shouts of little children draw my attention outside and watching them in the nearby park makes me smile as it reminds me of my childhood. There must be a cross-country meet going on in the park right behind my house because the parking lot is full and I can hear shrill whistles blowing. I didn’t run track or cross-country in high school, but as a little kid I did run in some races. I remember one race in particular at a local a park. Anxiety and anticipation that took full control of my body right before the race. I wanted to win and my coming performance drew my full attention.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” -African Proverb
I love the irony that as I came across that quote this morning reading a magazine there were races going on behind my house. I was fast as a little kid and as I stepped up to the starting line all of my strength was directed towards winning and running as fast as I could. I remember the feeling of complete fatigue as the race ended and I had given everything I could. The competition was exhilarating and I understand maybe a little bit of what Eric Liddell said in Chariots of Fire: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but I also believe he made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.”
What I didn’t have any idea about as a little kid is that some of the kids in that crowd I was trying to beat had no concern about winning the race at all. Some didn’t even know the route we were supposed to run. Some of them didn’t realize the race has started until they noticed all the kids around them had started to run. I didn’t realize that the way I was seeing the race was completely different than how others were viewing the race.
This theme has been on my mind, the idea that we were made to do life together but often see things so differently from others. Truth be told, it often seems easier to just go at life alone. Because just as when I was a little kid I had no idea how other little kids were experiencing that race day, now, as an adult, it is a struggle to truly understand and accept others as they process through their own life.
I often don’t have the right words to express myself and make myself known to others. And, on the flip side, I have just as hard a time slowing down and humbling myself to truly understand others around me. Because it’s hard, as the proverb says, to “go together.” And so much easier to just do things the way I want it done.
I’ve definitely tried to go at life alone. And the loneliness that follows is more debilitating than the diligent effort required to stay connected to those present in my life. I’m not sure if you’ve followed my ramblings, but if you have, I also want to say that with my whole heart I believe that the diligent effort required to stay connected to others, so we can “go together”, is worth every ounce of effort.