Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stick to the Trail

Stick to your task till it sticks to you
Starters are many, finishers few.
      -John Bytheway
 This is me and my dad after we ran our first half-marathon together.  He looks like he rocked it, I look like I'm about to die...and really I almost did.

In case you ever wanted to know, I moved.

I know, you are heartbroken and all that jazz.  But I had to move, and I am really pleased with the neighborhood I am living in now.  It is cute, its neighborhoody, and I can run on the roads in the morning/evenings.

Last Saturday I set out to go on my required by training 7 mile run.  I sat down at and I put together a route that I thought would be interesting and would fulfill the required distance.  I was excited about it. I sat at the screen and memorized it. Then I walked out the door and started running.  About 20 minutes in I realized that I had no idea where I was going, so I decided not to worry and that I would just run for around what I thought it would take me to run 7 miles and then try and find my way home.  By the time I got to around an hour and ten minutes of running, I realized I had no idea where I was.  I ended up running for another 20 minutes trying to find my house.  I eventually found the beautiful brick house that I live in, right next to about 50 other houses that look exactly alike on streets that are identical.

Today, I had a better plan.  I had found a trail that was about 2 miles long.  I figured I could loop around for my 8 mile run so I was excited. (Sidenote: It is so nice to live somewhere where I can run outside in January...)  This trail runs along side of a bayou.  On the other side I could tell that people had made their own make shift trail and I paid careful attention...for the first mile or so, to the fact that they paralleled, so I figured I was going to run back on the other side.  Well when I got to the end of the 2 mile trail, I saw that it was connected to another.  The thought of not having to do several loops was appealing so I kept running.  When I got to four miles I crossed the bridge and continued down the grassy side of the bayou...well about five minutes down the trail I realized that I hadn't made sure that this side connected to the other, or that it paralleled the path.  I found myself looking down at a fork in the bayou with two options: A) turn around or B) take my shoes off, cross the water that looked pretty shallow and get back on the path.

I chose option B, took advantage of the cool water, and waded across to get back to my trail and to get back to my goal.

As I came back down the four mile chute I thought about how easily that happens to me in life.  I follow very carefully the trail, for a time, but then I am distracted by other things.  There are ideas and places that seem so inviting at first, but in the end serve only to separate you from the path that leads to where you want to be going.  And that is the way of life.

Sticking to the trail is a full time job, it is not something that can be worked at diligently for an hour or so (doesn't diligently imply constantly anyways?).

A few years ago Elaine S. Dalton, current General President of the Young Women gave a talk called Stay on the Path and said the following:

Sometimes as we walk life’s paths, we want to loiter in dangerous places, thinking that it is fun and thrilling and that we are in control. Sometimes we think we can live on the edge and still maintain our virtue. But that is a risky place to be. As the Prophet Joseph Smith told us, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue” (History of the Church, 5:134–35).

It is always interesting to me the many paths that seem so constantly before me.  They all seem to be so inviting, and at times may give the appearance of leading to the same place.  But in reality, there is only one path that will lead you directly to where you want to be going.

Sister Dalton continued:

The Savior is the perfect example of virtue. When Jesus walked the roads of the Holy Land, He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). He healed the sick and caused the blind to see and raised the dead. “He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and [our] potential …  (see “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Liahonaand Ensign, Apr. 2000, 2–3). One of my favorite scriptures says: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Sure there are detours, sure you can get yourself back on the path...but you'll have to take your shoes off and get a little muddy.