“The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else.”
When we have goals, especially big ones, it is hard not to envision the moment and what will happen when we finally complete them. We expect feelings of elation, trumpets to blare, and the world to stop, even if just for an hour or so. The reality is, for the most part, few of those things ever occur. Traveling home from my running of the 202-mile American Odyssey Relay, I had a sense of melancholy. I have often experienced similar dips in emotion post-marathon, so this was nothing new. But it was a little deeper this time and held on a little bit longer. Even though I had accomplished one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, no giant fireworks went off, no wonderful feelings flowed through my veins for hours on end, and the finality of the moment was brought up immediately with questions like, “So, what’s next?”
I was reading a book on the plane home called Harriers about a high school cross-country team in Salem, Ohio, that was a true tale of a team that which had done nothing for a long time and went on to win the state title. There was a passage in its pages about an individual state champion in some sport speaking about how fleeting his moment of success was and how quickly people would either stop caring about his title or just simply forget. The point was that with a team effort, people soon will still forget, but at least you and your team can savor the memory together.
This book, coupled with my own feelings of blahness post-race, really drove home the quote I started this article with from tennis great Martina Navratilova. I know my own feelings were stemming partially finally achieving something I had been planning for two years and the subsequent weight which was lifted upon doing so. But more than that, the feeling I had was a reminder that we have to enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Doing so is sometimes very hard to do in our goal-oriented world. There is nothing wrong with setting high standards and having a single-minded purpose when in the midst of trying to achieve them, but we also have to embrace the ability to back off once in a while, stop the rush forward, and check out what we have accomplished on the way.