A week ago I volunteered at a place called Love Beyond Walls. This was my second time volunteering with them, and I got to help a group of guys build portable showers out of 250 gallon drums. While working the guys got to talking. One of them mentioned that he’d run his first marathon this year. He commented on how hard it was but that he’d been inspired before his last birthday to run a marathon because a lot of people were running a heck of a lot more than that. He told his friends that to get through it, he spent a lot of time talking to God. It reminded me of one of my favorite thoughts from running philosopher T.J. Pitts: “Nobody’s an atheist at mile 85 of 100”.
Talk about marathons eventually leads to ultramarathons. This new runner mentioned that he’d been inspired to run a marathon by a guy who volunteered last year that had run 100 mile races. When he heard that people ran 100 miles at a time he said he could at least do a marathon. He looked familiar, but with masks on it can be hard to tell.
“Was this around September or October last year?” I asked.
“Yeah, right before my birthday.” he answered.
“I think that was me.” I said as I pulled down my mask.
“Wow, yeah. But your hair was longer.” (I was sporting my lockdown hairdo back then)
He walked over and shook my hand and said thank you. I had talked to him for maybe fifteen minutes about running. I had no idea he was even that interested, but that short interaction had inspired him to run his first marathon. I was more shocked than he was. He was already planning his next marathon. He goal was to run it faster.
I don’t often share my experiences with others and when I do I tend towards understatement. It can feel like boasting to talk about difficult trials that you’ve overcome, or goals that you’ve reached. It can feel as though you’re repeating an experience that thousands of other people have already had. It can seem as though you’re boring people. Those are all feelings you have to overcome so that we can share more. As Pindar said, “unsung, the noblest deed will die.”
You may think your stories only matter to a few people in the world. Share them anyway. Reach those people. Don’t worry about boring people who aren’t listening anyway. Don’t worry about whether or not people will think you’re bragging. That one person who needs to hear your thoughts to do something great deserves to hear it.