There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. Nelson Mandela
When I first started telling friends that I was hoping to run my first ultra marathon this year, it was met with lots of support and encouragement. But when I mentioned to some of my running friends that I was feeling overwhelmed and really had no idea how to go about training for one, I was surprised by the response of one friend. She said her husband was willing to coach me. Now, I’ll never know how much she had to convince him to do this for me, a stranger, because he’s too nice of a guy to say anything to hurt my feelings, but I’m so grateful he took a chance on coaching me. I have no doubt I wouldn’t have crossed that first 50 mile finish line without his dedication to training me.
Not even half way through coaching me for that first race, I told him I wanted to add another 50+ mile race as a goal and he readily agreed to coach me for that as well. And now as I approach my double marathon race day I’m already talking to him about my next running goal and as usual, he is encouraging and supportive all while chasing after his own dreams.
It did not surprise me at all that he wrote the following piece on embracing your passion which he describes as: “…a thing of beauty and life and endless potential.” Because he is just one of those people that has not only found his own but has the heart to help others achieve their dreams.
I can’t explain it. When I try I quickly find I lack the capacity to do so. Any attempt seems woefully inadequate and futile, much like trying to describe a color to a person who has never had the gift of sight. To some, no explanation is necessary. There are those who are equally afflicted. There are some who understand, who just get it.
To those poor souls who don’t understand, who have never embraced passion, nothing I can say or do can convey my feelings. That’s the funny thing about passion – those who share it embrace it and encourage it in others, those who don’t mistakenly look at it as obsession or insanity. Those who don’t understand are the naysayers. They are the ones who stand safely on the sidelines of life and criticize those audacious few who dare to follow their dreams. To listen to them, to take their negativity to heart, is folly. It robs the passionate ones of their life force. It sows seeds of self doubt. The world is full of these naysayers. They are out there lurking, waiting to pounce, to burst the bubble of optimism. They are there hoping to latch on and drain you of your spirit with words of doubt and limitation. Like an emotional vampire, they feed on the life force of others. They are there to rob us of our passion so that we fit into their limited view of the world.
I guess when it comes down to it, true passion shares a great deal with obsession and insanity. Your passion drives you. It occupies your thoughts, your dreams, and your hopes. It dominates you and is always there whispering in your ear, urging you ever forward.
The difference between passion and obsession is that passion is a thing of beauty and life and endless potential. Passion has pushed human kind to the top of the world, across oceans, across continents, and into space. Passion is love, and love allows you to appreciate the beauty of life. Passion has achieved and will achieve things once thought impossible.
Embrace your passion, whatever it is. Ignore the naysayers. They are meek and timid souls. Every single one of the greatest experiences in my life was criticized by those around me as being foolish, rash, impulsive, or obsessive. They were all wrong. They will continue to be wrong. I will follow my passion wherever it leads me. Naysayers be damned.
I run because it is my passion. I run because it brings me joy and tears, incredible highs, and earth shaking lows. I run because it makes me feel alive and forces me to embrace all aspects of life, the amazing and the humbling. I run because it forces me out of my comfort zone. After all, that’s where all the good stuff happens.
Ashby is a 40-something husband, father of two and runner. He has been passionate about running since his parents took him to see Chariots of Fire when he was nine years old. Since then, he has been hooked on endurance sports and has completed in scores of races of all distances including over 20 marathons, more than 10 ultramarathons, (from 50k to 100 miles), and numerous triathlons, including two iron distance races. When he is not hanging out with his wife and kids or practicing law to pay the bills he is running, thinking about running, talking about running, writing about running, reading about running, helping others run or recovering from a run. Sometimes all at once. You can connect with Ashby at Transcend Endurance.
Thank you, Coach. I’ll forever be grateful for what you have done for me and I’ll be cheering you on as you chase your dreams!
Never Give Up,