I haven't been the greatest blogger this fall. We could go as far as to say that I've failed at blogging. But I have done a pretty good job at being a law student, which means I've done relatively nothing but read thousands of pages, write hundreds of pages, and try to sleep in between. Sometimes, the overflow has spilled out in the form of breakdowns, outbursts, and accidentally long runs. Sometimes, I've escaped law school and run marathons on stress fractures and Nuun tablets. But all in all, I survived the fall, and now I want to talk about inspiration.
Inspiration: It's a noun. It's something we fuel on. It has no calories. It's free. Inspiration goes like this: You're walking around, minding your own business, and suddenly somebody puts you in a headlock and force-feeds you hyper-energizing, life-changing perspective. It could be in the form of a story. It could be watching somebody do incredible bike tricks. It could be witnessing the most powerful speech you've ever heard, or watching someone cross a finish line after running more than 140 miles in the span of a day. It could be as simple as a statement someone makes about life while they're cooking eggs, or a documentary film about criminal justice. It could be a poster of Abraham Lincoln winking at you. But whatever it is, it captivates you like a great wave gathering around a school of fish and rushing them forward into new space that looks like the same ocean but feels completely different now. You are the fish. Inspiration is the wave. The ocean is everything around you, and your swim has everything to do with your mindset.
In the last few weeks, I've witnessed some things that have fed me inspiration. Last weekend, I visited the sidelines of the Icarus Florida Ultrafest, organized by Claire and Andrei Nana. It doesn't matter what kind of runner you are, from 5k to ultramarathon – you know that any distance and any goal requires perseverance and dedication to the self. Even if you don't run, you know it takes a certain amount of resilience to do anything that involves a sustainable struggle.
Ultra-running is cool because it's all about mastery and journey. And because of that, you meet some of the most incredible spirits on earth at ultrarunning events. Some have long beards and crazy hair. Yet some look like certified accountants. Some look like human transformers with bulging calves and quads. Some look like little Elvin Fairies that run on air and Cool-Whip. But no matter what, the collective human spirit you feel at an ultra-running event is undeniably special, because nobody's really running 50+ miles for money or medals or weight loss. Most are running for a beautiful plethora of truly humanly-honest reasons: to push their own limits, to train the mind, to beat inner conflict, to improve the self. To journey. To wander. To do something incredible.
Last weekend, I watched Alyson Venti complete 140.8 miles in 24 hours – enough to qualify for the U.S. National team for the 24 hour run. Alyson Venti is the reason I wanted to enter the world of ultrarunning sports. I didn't even know what an ultramarathon was before 2013, when I saw an article about Aly winning the Keys 50. I had never even run a 5K. I still haven't ever run a 5K. But I was fascinated with Aly, in all of her beauty and grace and badassery, and I knew I had to try distance running.
I also met a man named Jesper Olsen this weekend, a runner from Denmark who ran around the world twice. Let me repeat: He ran around the world twice, once in a North/South direction, and once in an East/West direction. Clearly there were flights involved to span bodies of water that couldn't be traversed on foot, but after meeting Jesper, I'm convinced he may have run the aisle of the plane during transit as well.
Last Sunday morning, after running for six days straight, he drank some water and then whipped out a laptop and gave a casual presentation about his run around the world. He described the slow change of culture you get to witness when spanning a continent on foot – the slow evolution of the language from town to town, and the slow motion turn of the seasons, the landscape, and the architecture. Folks, I was mesmerized. This man is standing in front of me, in his glasses, joking about running through sandstorms and blizzards, crossing Russia and Japan on foot. All I could think about was the human fight you have to possess to complete a goal like that.
But inspiration doesn't have to come in the form of extreme distance running or world records. This past week, on Friday morning, I saw a man on the side of the interstate, during a traffic jam, changing his tire in a rainstorm. He was laughing.
Yall, I almost cried. You have to really understand the beauty of life to laugh to yourself while changing your tire alone in a rainstorm on the side of the interstate on your way to work. In a drenched shirt and tie. You have to be evolved or crazy. Let's go with evolved.
That guy became my new symbol of human resilience. He joins the ranks of countless friends and heroes who have taken their situation and accepted it, changed it, and celebrated the process. Man, it makes me tear up just thinking about the fight I see, sometimes, in the humans around me that don't let hardship, heartbreak, or adversity defeat them.
You can let stuff get you down, but you can't stay down. Took me a long time to figure that out, but I think it's finally sinking in. If you're fighting something, struggling to overcome, or just trying to accept the life with the best attitude you can – Folks can see you. And they appreciate your waves of positive influence.
Sometimes you're the wave. Sometimes you're the fish. But may you always be strong, resilient, and vulnerable all at the same time. May you flip on your back and float for a second to realize what a miracle it is we're even here on this ball of grass and saltwater, floating through gravity which doesn't exist. Holy shit.
Check out this great article on being mentally strong by my friend Claire Nana.
Check out this book on running around the world by Jesper Olsen.
Check out my friend Keith Rogers, who is taking the leap to build a professional photography practice.
Check out my friend Corey Martinez doing what he was born to do with a bike.
Who inspires you? Let the world know man, man!
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