As I panted away and chased our 19 and 21 year old kids, Olivia and Chris, for seven hours up and down the 10 mile circuit of Mt. Adams and Mt. Madison in New Hampshire’s White Mountains a couple of weeks ago, I started to think of the many other things I’ve chased over the last 51 years.
It seems that I’ve always been chasing something. When I was in high school, I was pursuing an education, but mostly chasing my dream to play baseball in college. After playing baseball at the University of Southern Maine and obtaining a degree in Economics, I pursued building my career at the bank while also trying to become the best cyclist I could be. Eventually, after training and racing 300 miles per week, I reached the top flight of amateur cyclists by racing at the pro-1-2 level of the United States Cycling Federation. After cycling, I changed my quest and spent nearly 10 years building a competitive men’s softball team that was sponsored by Nike, SBSI, Labatt Blue and Sunday River Ski Resort. Our team played all over New England while qualifying for and competing at various national championship tournaments around the country.
As I have gotten older and my body has continued to redefine what I am capable of doing physically, I have had to continuously reinvent myself and reconsider what I am pursing. What I have found is that while what I am now chasing often doesn’t provide the adrenaline rush that I had grown to love, my pursuits have become more and more meaningful and rewarding. I continue to realize that the most satisfying, inspiring, and energizing chase of all is the pursuit of improving myself and using that improvement to serve and help others.
In fact it has become my most ambitious pursuit of all – the chase of becoming the best dad, spouse, friend, co-worker, and mentor that I can be while finding and supporting causes and needs that resonate with me. It’s a never ending struggle because so much of being one’s best in these areas goes against human nature. Discipline, empathy, putting others’ needs equal to your own, and striving to be a caring person often goes against what comes naturally to us. To be the best in any area associated with human relations it takes focus, determination and the ability and capacity to accept failure, the willingness to apologize and ask for another opportunity and the fortitude to try and try again.
All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.
– James Thurber
I had some friends recently tell me that they couldn’t wait to retire. They were looking forward to an endless amount of time recreating. I think that may be fun for a very short period of time but most people that I have talked to become very bored with this type of lifestyle in a short amount of time. We are designed to pursue meaning, passion, and purpose – to make a difference in some way. This is what we often find fires us up and has us hit the floor running each morning. As Darren Hardy shares, “The chase (of meaning and purpose) is the very verve of life.” What is the vision for your life over the next few years? What is it that you will be chasing? What gives you energy, passion, zeal, and joy?
Steven Covey shares, “In our most reflective moments, each of us wants to make a difference – a contribution. Call it a cause or call it a mission, we want to be part of something meaningful. There comes a point when each individual should strive to clarify what he or she will stand for and what purposes he or she will choose to pursue.”
Looking back at this past month, are you satisfied with what you are chasing? James Thurber offers, “It is not enough to be industrious; so are ants. What are you industrious about?” So, are you contributing to something that rings true with your values and beliefs? Are you making a positive impact on the lives of those who are most important to you and to the causes that are most dear to you?
E.B. White shares, “If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
E.B.White’s quandary sounds like the chase of a lifetime – striving to enjoy the world around us as we contribute time, energy, and resources to improving it. I know that together we can accomplish much – who’s up for the chase?