Don't worry. This is not one of those exercise posts suggesting you get off your ass more than you already do and start running if you don't already. In fact, it's sort of the opposite. This is an annoying philosophical post, and running is just a metaphor. It's actually about priorities, and the amusing human tendency to focus them all in one place.
So if you'll bear with Crabby's analogy for a bit:
In the exercise world, some people are runners; some people are walkers; and the vast majority of folks rarely get off the couch at all.
Those who do get off the couch and walk are doing something huge and healthy and virtuous. Yet walking isn't as fast as running. People who run often feel a bit smug about it. People who "only" walk can feel inadequate, or guilty, or frustrated, or envious, depending on why it is they're not running. (They'd feel much better if they compared themselves instead to the Couch People, but for some reason, the vast legions of Couch People become irrelevant once one has left one's own couch behind).
However, there are many areas of life besides aerobic exercise. You may be a "walker" when it comes to exercise, but a "runner" when it comes to your job. You may be "lying on the couch" when it comes to Making Your Marriage Work. There are not enough hours a day to be a runner in everything.
So why do so many of us concentrate our efforts on improving our fastest times in areas where we're already running? But remain, in other important areas of our lives, stuck on the couch stuffing Ding-Dongs in our mouths?
You know what I mean. Say you've been putting a tremendous amount of energy into being The Worlds' Best Mom. Because what could be more important? You're running marathons at a 4 minute mile pace, yet you still feel you should run further, faster--because there's still more you could do. Your little boy just bit the Kindergarten teacher and you haven't made brownies from scratch in months!
And yet you promised yourself you'd do something about your rising blood pressure and racing heart and your doctor said something about "relaxation exercises" but where would you find the time?
To Crabby, the hardest part about achieving "better balance" is not putting more effort into something: it's contemplating spending less effort on the things she's already invested in. What once seemed an amazing accomplishment (a promotion to Supervisor, a triathlon, a pound a week weight loss) is now just "normal" and expected. (And by the way, these examples are all hypothetical and are not from Crabby's actual life. She expects to do her first triathlon, for example, right about the time Giant Two-Headed Moon People show up to take over the world).
On the other hand, if you've ever suffered a death in the family, or had your house burn down, or even had really bad stomach flu and barfed for three days straight, you know that it is possible to stop running. Right in the middle of everything, suddenly with no warning--Bam. You're flat on your back on the couch and you can't do any of those things that you "have" to do. But the world doesn't end! In fact, somehow everything works out just fine.
At some point, it seems wise to learn how to get off the couch. But also how to take a deep breath and stop running so fast. Walking is good too!
So does anyone else find this issue of priorities a challenge? Are you pretty balanced in life or are there important things you're neglecting? Are you a slacker who longs to be an over-achiever, or vice versa? Any thoughts are welcome!