A good friend of mine has often said he has never finished a marathon and thought to himself, “Let’s keep going!” I always agreed with him! Not once have I ever finished a marathon and wanted to keep running. It’s ironic then that this is the same friend who hatched the great idea that eight of us ended up doing – running across the Grand Canyon – and then back -in one day!
I spent that day in late September with seven other tough, determined, bad ass, incredible individuals. There is nothing else that could describe those people given the accomplishment we all achieved. We estimated that we ran 46-48 miles (GPS watches were a little touchy in parts of the lower canyon) in just a little over 16 hours and 37 minutes. We all had our challenges that day but in the end true grit and determination ruled the day.
It truly was an incredible experience! I feel so blessed that I was able to experience something so majestic. I was in awe of this magnificent creation from God that I had the good fortune to experience as very few do. It seemed that every turn revealed a view more breathtaking than the last one.
I learned a lot about myself and the human spirit that day. For the most part, we all stayed together that day and at different times each person had physical or mental obstacles they had to overcome but the rest helped lift them up and we continued to move forward – together.
I initially thought I had learned a lot about myself on that run but in truth it was already there, waiting for me to realize it. The run through the canyon just brought it all to light and allowed be to accept those truths and believe in them. I am capable of anything that I decide to do. Does that mean that if I want to become a professional baseball player at the age of 45 I can make that happen? No, but what it does mean is that when I set a realistic goal and work hard at it I will make it happen. I am here to tell you that you are capable of the same thing. You just need to believe! I think there were many people that thought we were crazy for attempting this and that we may not succeed – but we did! We persevered in spite of limitations others thought existed or may have questioned.
I imagine that if you spent any amount of time in the Grand Canyon you would feel this way as well – small! I mean, it’s hard not to. The canyon is so large and vast that if you go off the trail you are literally taking your life into your own hands. People die every year in the canyon because they go off the trail and end up getting lost and can’t find their way out. I may have felt small many times that day, but I also felt the opposite that day – LARGE!! In fact, I felt that way more often than not. It is hard to explain but it was as though I was larger than life. I felt so alive while crossing the canyon twice that day.
One of the biggest lessons that came to light for me that day is that there is power in the moment. We are so blessed in our lives but too often we are distracted or not paying attention to the beauty that is all around us. It doesn’t have to be something as magnificent as the Grand Canyon. It may be our children playing, the new baseball diamond in town, watching an old couple having lunch together while holding hands the entire time, or seeing new love in a young couple as they escape for an afternoon picnic at the park. All of those moments have tremendous power to have profound effects on us if we let them! If we just stop all the noise and distractions around us long enough to realize the beauty of that moment that we are experiencing. That is what my trek through the Grand Canyon made me realize. Do I do a great job of that every day? No, but I have recognized I need to do better. I am working on it and by the grace of God I will continue to get better at it. The joy I’ve gotten from trying so far has given me a glimpse into what true happiness can look like.
That run marked the starting point of what I hope to be a new chapter in my life. Just a few short weeks prior to running the Grand Canyon I closed a chapter in my life that wasn’t always pleasant and challenged me to my core. I didn’t like that chapter in my life and really wish I hadn’t had to live through it. Through the challenges, the pain, the happiness and the joy in the canyon that day I realized that that chapter, however painful, is a part of me. It helped define who I am today. The challenges it forced me to overcome have made me a better man today than I was prior. Had I not gone through them I would not have been able to appreciate the awesome beauty of the Grand Canyon that day. I would have missed it. I would also still be missing so many other things that happen all around me every day. The reality is that I probably never would have put myself in a position to be in there in the first place.
The challenges we face in life, however painful, are there for a reason. If we work through them, trust in God, and don’t let them defeat us, we come out the other side more whole. The reality is the challenges I faced prior to the run through the canyon that day made the actual run through it seem easy. In the end, my life challenges, like yours, made me stronger and better to face the challenges that will surely lie ahead. I know that I am strong enough to face them and overcome them, just like I did on that run through the canyon.
Be Great! Be Strong!
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