What I mean to say is that the process of winning in life is easily convoluted when we break it down into little, individual steps. It's like the writing process. As an author, I realize that the writing process does not look like the chart pictured here at all. While it might be important to be aware of each of the components of such a chart, they must not be portrayed as steps in the process. The fact is, I'm all over this chart when I'm writing. I revise as I go, edit when I'm finished, brainstorm ideas in the middle, and I revise again. I write more, edit more, revise and write more. I move paragraph 20 to paragraph 3. I remove characters, change their voices, add scenes, insert figurative language, and I correct mistakes throughout. The process of writing is dirty and gritty, and I love it.
But that's not the purpose of this article.
The 2016/7 slogan for our school is Race to Excellence. It's a pretty broad statement that could be broken down into steps:
- Buy the proper equipment (If running, this might include shoes.)
- Find a safe place to run.
- Train for the race (Start small, and incrementally increase your distance.)
- Monitor your vital statistics, and track your improvement.
- Enlist in a race, and show up on race day.
- Wait for the signal to start.
- Run your best race.
- Cross the finish line (hopefully as the winner).
You see, we have to understand that our daily races rarely have finish lines. We will not always feel the tape break against our chests, we won't always see a checkered flag, and we probably won't experience too many winner's circles or receive paychecks for endorsing breakfast cereals. Our successes in life's race come to us more incrementally, sometimes covertly, and sometimes not at all.
Why is that?
Someone once said, Just when you think you have all the answers, someone changes the questions, and you know that's true. Getting the the bottom of something often uncovers new things you have to get the the bottom of. We can chase rabbits (or Pokemon critters) all day long, but we're not ever going to catch them all. Someone will inevitably throw more rabbits into the ring before we're finished.
Our training for our race is not something we can do to prepare for the race itself. In fact, the training for ongoing race runs concurrent with the race itself. We constantly run, not only to prepare for future races, but we run our races simultaneously with our training.
Perhaps that's our true circle of life. It's not only about maintaining our places in the food chain, and it's not just about continuing our family name by producing new generations. My circle of life is the circuitous running that I do to survive within my family and among my peers. It's how I handle confrontation, how I deal with people who have different personalities, or beliefs, or (dare I say) skin colors. It's how I respond to ignorance, grief, and pride. My circle of life involves tremendous on-the-job training as I learn to navigate the seas of humanity in a world of uncertainty and growing conflict.
I don't suppose it's very comforting, but we have to understand that our learning - training - does not stop when we conclude elementary school, when we graduate from high school, when we receive a college degree, or when we reach a certain age. Our learning is lifelong for a race that extends beyond our years. I must train with the intention of winning my race, but the finish lines are moving targets. And just because I might run over one of them never means I am finished racing.
I may never race to excellence, but I can always race excellently.