Imagine you’re running a long distance race (which we usually call life), you don’t know exactly where it ends, you don’t even know what’s really ahead of you. But you know you’ll have to figure it out by yourself because it’s your race. And you’ll go through multiple different phases just like season changes across the year.
You’re right at the beginning, your body is warming up, your breathe isn’t smooth, and your form is still changing, you’re busy aligning your mind and body, you are oblivious to what’s around you.
It took you a while to settle into a pace that you’re most comfortable with. It’s your regular pace that you can effortlessly manage, since you’ve repeated it so many times before during practice. It’s the Goldilocks pace, not too fast not too slow, despite a bit boring. That’s your rhythm.
But it’s boring, until you stumble into a couple. They’re tall, strong and fast. They’re born for spotlight and running like elites. Perhaps what’s important to you is that they’re faster than you. Either you don’t want to fall behind, or you aren’t happy with the attention they draw from others, your instinct nudges you to catch up.
Of course you did that, letting your intuition autopilot, regardless of how fast the gear is being switched. You’re looking good now, at least in your own mind. Heavy breathe and soaked clothes can’t stop you from losing yourself in your affected feeling.
Doesn’t it sound familiar? So often we’re distracted by the flamboyant traits of others and can’t stop from imitating them consciously or subconsciously. We’re allured to the feeling of impressiveness while neglecting the simple fact that we’re not ourself anymore. The affectation can be hard to notice, especially by ourselves, but our work always speaks the truth.
The feeling was too good to not be transitory. All of a sudden, you’re out of breathe. You can’t keep up with the pace. You start to lose your bearings, then strength and patience. Your morale plunges while your self doubt soars. You are confused by why upwind comes so fast that it leaves you completely unprepared. The only thing that you’re sure about is that you can’t afford to keep the same pace as a while go, otherwise you’re risking burning out.
Your inner voice now whispers to remind you that you don’t look quite good, but rather embarrassed; like a deflated balloon. And you probably should consider ending the disappointing show before it’s too late to do so. It’s calling you to quit - the early exit that exists everywhere. Or to stay in the race, you’ll have to dial down your pace. Until it’s much slower than your regular pace so that you can recover your breathe.
It’s not easy because we’re wired to upgrade expectation not to downgrade, to speed up not to slow down, as the hedonic adaptation says. What a pain to lose speed and momentum. That’s when we’re encountering setbacks. We’re facing the catch-22 we created for ourselves. We will crash physically if we keep up the pace, or mentally if we dial it down. Confrontation is hard, but easy choice can only lead to harder problems.
You’re exhausted but you’ve pushed yourself hard enough to the finish line. You don’t look well but you choose to stay in the game. You paid the price for being out of pace - a short period of sprinting impulsively disrupted the rhythm of entire race.
And you know you’re faster and more fulfilled if you were sticking to the original boring pace. But there’s no if… After all, it’s only an imagined race.
We’ve all heard about the parable of the tortoise and the hare, while we’re tempted by the aptitude of the hare, it’s actually better to have the boring attitude of the tortoise, because it helps to win the race.
Stay boring, my friend.