Numb and Number

Why do you think that Friday the 13th is bad luck, but there’s nothing particularly dangerous about Thursday the 12th?  One second you are fine, then the clock strikes midnite and you have to watch out for black cats and sneezing your head off.

Numbers also bestow mythical titles upon people like Home Run King Hank Aaron or Ironman Cal Ripken.

What numbers do you use to measure yourself?
What meaning do you give them?

It’s even worse with us runners.  A 3:59.59 marathon may seem worthy, a 4:00.01 marathon is shit.  A 4:59:anything mile is a dream come true, a 5:01 is years of frustration and angst.  It’s stupid. And yet, there it is.

The clock doesn’t give mulligans.  But we can take one whenever we want because no matter what the clock or calendar says, what it means is within our minds.  What 5:04 (my fastest high school mile) meant to me was that I left something on the table that I think I should have had.  And that could have been the end of it.

But sometime last spring, I decided it meant something else: a call to arms to take back my body and draw a line in the cinders.  And whether I got there or not, I couldn’t worry about that.  What mattered is that I was trying. And when I did that, without fear of failing, the meaning of that number changed.

And so too, the meaning of Thursday, September 12 is up to me to decide. Bad luck? Good luck?

What are trying to do?
Are you really committed?

I’ve come to understand bad and good are not particularly meaningful words.  What’s good for the mouse is bad for the cat. What’s good for the tree may look bad to the falling leaf.

Instead of good or bad, I’m going with useful.

And whether it’s a time that motivates you to do better, or a PR that builds up your self-respect, or age or anniversary or salary or blood pressure reading or other objective measure that’s assigned a number, be mindful of what meaning and use you choose for that number.

Then make it useful to shake off the numbness, wake up and live.

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