Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Discount Store Ironman

The morning that I was supposed to do my ironman found me limping around a large discount store. About the time I should have been stepping out of the water from the 2.4 mile swim, I was stepping around boxes in the crowded, narrow aisles. Discount store life was going on unaware and unconcerned that there was an ironman in progress. I felt out of place; like I was outside looking in to the store and me in it. There it is: outside looking in; feeling that I am in a place that on this day, I don’t belong. It was as if the train had left the station and the struggle, the challenge, my passion left me behind to mindlessly drift life away in a large discount store. In the midst of the crowd and the noise, I felt alone.

Discount store life might be great stuff for many. The thrill of finding a bargain, the aisle fellowship with part time friends and complete strangers; a community of like-minded. I certainly understand that. In principle it might not be much different than the sense of community sometimes felt in an endurance sports crowd, pre or post event. Discount store life is a little less demanding though which is probably why it is so popular. You don’t have to train, or get in shape for it. Consequently, the stars of discount store life come in many different shapes and sizes. On another day other just watching all this might be entertaining. But, my ironman was going on without me.

Thoughts drifted again to the event. About this time I might have been about to begin the bike portion of the ironman. I could almost feel the wind in my face and push of the pedals. I could almost hear the yells from the crowds. Instead I was trying to get to the check-out line so I could get out of this place. What am I doing here?

The crowd got worse and I felt claustrophobic. Finally, I asked my wife if she could check out. I just had to get out of there. She understood. The knee hurt from all the standing around as I hobbled across the parking lot to find my vehicle. I didn't feel ashamed I wasn't doing the ironman. Physically, I couldn’t have done the event. I knew that. But, being in a large discount store buried in crowd of unlike people, at the very time my passion was going on without me was a little much. It just seemed like piling on. Enough.

There has to be something in this besides my regrets, some lesson God wanted me to learn from all this. And despite my pretense at wondering, I knew the answer: I really have no choice. There is no going backwards. Painful knee or not, there is nothing to do but keep after it, keep being me. To me, discount store life is a sort of personal hell, a place I might go, a person I might be if I gave up. For me, breaking down at an ironman event and being carried off on a stretcher would be better than settling for a life like this. So I resolve, for me, there are no bargains in any store. My best deals will be found by responding to this calling within and living out the passion God has placed upon me.