No One Is Going To Run Those Miles For You

I wake up at 4:30 in the morning. That early, the moon shines full and bright and reflects off the frozen lake, providing enough light to hold back the inky black parts of the night that try to smother you when your head is turned.

The morning isn’t cold. It passed cold two months ago and moved well into mind-numbingly freezing; that kind of cold that strikes at exposed skin like a viper and doesn’t let go. I don’t want to be outside. Nothing wants to be outside at 4:30 in the morning during a Wisconsin winter.

One foot in front of the other. The crunch of snow underfoot and I am off. My feet carry me and my breath is a smokestack betraying my progress. I am an unstoppable locomotive in a dark black night that is barreling down on a distant destination yet unsure of; nothing but the road, the cold and my breath.

I wake up at 4:30 in the morning because that is the only time I have to run.

Running Into the Future
Photo: h.koppdelaney, via Flickr

Sometimes when I wake up I consider hitting the snooze button and taking that hour to just lie in bed, warm and comfortable; trying to gather the remnants of my dreams around me like shattered glass, but I always hear that same voice in my head that is more jarring than any alarm I could set.

No one is going to run those miles for you.

For some reason, these words always get me out of bed as I can hear them echo through the hazy caverns of the freshly woken mind.

No one is going to run those miles for you.

Most of us are not just students. We are parents, employees, friends and lovers, siblings, grandparents or sons and daughters. We have an infinite number of things to do, bound by the finite march of time. We do not think we can do it all, but almost always we do.

And you want to know why we nearly always find the time to run, to read one more bedtime story, to make a healthy meal for our families or just be there for a friend? You want to know why we can seem to make space to work those extra hours and finish that final paper on time, while we help a friend move and bake treats for the kid’s class?

Because we know that no one is going to run those miles for us.

Whatever responsibilities we have in this world from all of our million roles, we are forced to face them and tackle them because no one else is going to do it for us and no one can do them better than us. Sure, we procrastinate, we falter, we slow down, we even stop sometimes, when expectation and obligation become weights changing our trajectory but we always start again and we run our miles.

You will feel pulled in a million directions and you will be stretched so thin you will feel translucent sometimes but there is resilience in us. We have a way of springing back and starting again. That is a great strength of the human race.

People try to say that I have more discipline than most. I do not. Ask anyone who knows me. I am as weak-willed as they come. It’s not about discipline anyway. It’s about accepting and fulfilling the conditions of the social contracts we sign.

We know that no one is going to do the things that we should be doing better than we could do them. So we make time. We make time to work and go to school. We make time to be a father or mother. We make time to be a friend.

And we make time to run our miles because if we didn’t then someone else would, and they wouldn’t do it nearly as good as we could. Because those are our miles to run, and we are not going to let anyone run them for us.