The Author In 2018.
I was once reasonably fast. Now I am plodding! My wife Julie calls my running form the old man shuffle!
I am good with the old man shuffle. Being old and slow now represents a lot of life lessons learned.
The days of youth pass quickly, even though we think they will last forever when we are young.
Looking back, I am amazed I’ve run now for 55 years.
I started running before it was cool to do so. When I ran down Martin Way in Lacey, Washington, vulgar words from people passing by came my way. These events happened before my teenage years. Old banana peels and beer cans flew overhead during those runs as well.
Being a runner on the road was a target of the bullies of that era. I was the geek doing something different; they were the cool kids puffing their chests.
Funny, all those catcalls and banana peels didn't discourage me one bit; they fired me up in a good way. “I’ll show them was my attitude at the time. I'll use this for good and get even better”.
I don’t have it in my nature to strike back. I've always tried to use life's bullies to get better, not bitter.
I remember another time in a Junior High PE class when the teacher said, "if anyone can beat Weber around this grass loop, they will get an A in this class.”
So, as soon as the teacher was out of sight, two or three guys pushed me down to the ground hard so they could get a head start. They thought pushing me to the ground was pretty funny.
This great desire came over me after they threw me on the ground. I picked myself up off the ground, slowly caught the pack, and won the race in the last 50 yards of the three-quarters of a mile race.
The teacher wondered why I didn’t win by more that day. I never told him what happened. I wanted to deal with this situation myself.
No one would get an A on my watch that day for doing something wrong.
Funny, the intimidators that day were shocked and respected what I had done. They left me alone after that day.
I took the lessons I learned from childhood running into adulthood. When more seriously attacked by adult bullies, I try my best to avoid bitterness by trying to serve, love, or help others more than ever before.
Intentionally turning a negative situation into a positive outcome usually works. Doing good eventually conquers hostile or malicious intent.
Looking back, we can take many life lessons from those who want to push us down.
Get better, not bitter. Don’t strike back; lead the pack. Use the bullies of life to accomplish even greater things in life. Don’t retaliate; use that extra energy to win whatever race God has set before you.
As I shuffle down the road as an older man, I think about all the lessons I learned through my running career. Rise above adversity, get a backbone when things are tough, and use negative comments for good.
I may not be as fast as in the old days, but I can still outrun those bullies by giving all I’ve got to help, love, and serve others.
Yes, I am good with the old man shuffle. That old, slow shuffle represents critical life lessons learned through running in challenging situations throughout a lifetime.