How do you reconcile your desire for happiness with the responsibilities in your life? Responsibilities to your self, and responsibilities to others. Work may not make you happy, but you have to go. You may spend time with friends and family when you're not in the mood. You will have work outs that don't feel good. Even days when your hobbies feel like chores.
I used to avoid responsibility, and pursue happiness pretty much exclusively. I thought that's what life was about: Just do what you want to do. Nevermind that on a grand scale, society can't function if every one did that. But on a personal scale, was I really happy?
No. There's a difference between momentary joy, and lasting happiness. In between partying with strangers, I was alone. In between nights of binge drinking, I anguished over my lack of fitness. I looked at those who had many responsibilities, and thought those people had full lives. Meaningful lives. Happy lives.
|This cat has a VERY happy life.|
The point is, happiness is a long-term goal. It's not always easy or obvious. Sometimes you realize that something you've been doing for a long time... doesn't bring you joy. Sometimes it's easier to just stick with the status quo, to stick with "good enough". The freedom to be happy is really a recent invention. It's not something that our ancestors had the luxury of chasing after. Though interestingly, they were often happier than we are today.
Having near infinite options today can paralyze us. Seeing the success of our friends online can make us feel like failures. Seeing photos of their grand adventures make us feel like we're missing out. Seeing smiling couples make us feel alone. Of course we don't see the stuff they don't post. And they're looking at the same stuff online and feeling just as sad themselves.
So misery is often just a fabrication of the mind. We feel powerless. But we are not. It's a choice.
This past year, I feel like I've acknowledged that choice. You didn't think I was ever getting to the point with that huge preamble, did you?
I looked at my 2016 Retrospect. That was a year when my happiness level fluctuated a lot. My training was often self-destructive in 2016. I had more responsibility this past year, with regards to people I love. And my responsibility promises to only go up from here! But I feel good about that. More importantly, I'm starting to pull back from my break-neck training regime. So 2017 was a year of long-haul changes.
Right this moment probably isn't the best time for me to talk about training. I've been sick for the past few days, and have done very little. So of course I feel like a huge pile of slack. But I compared my totals from this year with last, and felt better. Of course, then I compared my totals with those of my friends, and felt worse again. Whoops!
So less running, but my biking doubled, and my swimming more than tripled. I started out too hard with the lifting challenge this fall and hurt my lower back, so that took a hit. My totals are much less than those of my friends who also did Ironmans. The biking took a hit in the summer because of a leg injury, and it dropped a lot after the IM because I decided to do more running (but that didn't quite pan out). The swimming is getting better and better. More importantly I like it more.
It frustrates me sometimes, to worry about overtraining and hurting myself, but at the same time seeing how lousy my miles are. I know I shouldn't compare myself to others, but of course that's hard to actually put into practice. I suspect despite all my pretty words about finding life balance, I will continue to worry over and struggle with my volume. But I'm optimistic for 2018; I've learned a lot from my mistakes over the past 2+ years.
As I did with last year's retrospect, I'll put some highlights from this past year. By far the most amazing thing that's happened to me.... I can't post about. Not yet. And I'm missing some very important folks in the memories below. Just know that I love all of you.
2017 started out with a solo marathon at midnight!
Todd keeps trying to rope me into doing Lake Effect half marathon again. It was super fun last time I did it!
Boston Marathon was just an unparalleled experience. It's every runner's dream to run Boston, and I got to do it. I still can't believe it.
My first 70.3, Patriot, was awesome! I got to do it with my two favorite people in the world, Geoffrey and Meghan.
Musselman was a hilarious and epic adventure. Wow! What a weekend that was.
My big event of 2017, Ironman Mont Tremblant. Another one of those things I can't believe I did. It's like it happened to a different person. And I get to do it again at Lake Placid in 2018. Holy cow!
Wineglass is always amazing, and this year was no different. Pacing Carrie to her first sub-4 marathon made me realize what life is all about.
And of course there was a ton of silliness throughout the year.
I couldn't help it, here's a few more highlights.
This is generally how I feel!
Overall, it's been a pretty epic year. Although the most important thing has been the people. It's often weird to me how much love I have in my life. I'm still not used to it. It keeps on growing! And more than anything else, that brings me joy. I can only hope that I can return as much love as is given to me.
Growth and huge changes are afoot. But I'm excited for them. There will be some scary moments, no doubt. There will be struggles and suffering. But it's all leading to a very bright future. When I look forward to it, I feel warm all over. Thank-you for reading and have a happy new year!!