In Pursuit of Unfulfillment
Article by: Michael SelmanReproduced with permission of the author
One of the things I have realized throughout my life is that accomplishing goals is ultimately not so satisfying to me. In fact, it's probably the least enjoyable moment of the whole process of exploring my limits, whatever they may be. The hard work and preparation captures the imagination, and there are always new goals to occupy my focus, but the joy of accomplishment is short-lived, and can lead to complacency if we don't constantly look just a little bit beyond the finish line.
Runners are a paradox, perpetually young at heart, but aging ever so subtly from one year to the next. It adds to the lure and mystique of our unfulfillment. We deny vehemently the aging process, and strive for the same athletic goals we did when we first started all those years ago. We may have never reached them, even back then, but there is always tomorrow, and hope. We look in the mirror, and are convinced that we don't look a day older than we did as teenagers. How could we? We still feel the inner child, and expect it so display outwardly in the same manner.
Before I went to Israel, I had to have my passport renewed. The one from 10 years earlier had just expired. When I got the new passport back, I compared the picture with the one that had been taken for the old one. My current hair was much grayer, and a bit thinner. My face told the story of the past ten years. But still, in my mind, I said that maybe with a little Grecian Formula and a good night's sleep, I'd look just like in years past.
There are still PR's in my future, and don't try to tell me otherwise. It might be in the 5K, or maybe in the marathon. Possibly, it could lie anywhere in between, or maybe even beyond. But it is there, that carrot of unfulfillment, dangling just out of my reach.
We continue to run, I am convinced, so we can continue to achieve new levels of unfulfillment. Running practically guarantees it. There is always a boundary to what we can do as runners. It could be speed, or distance, as they are both barriers we love to push to the point of failure. If not for defeat in one manner or another, we would have stopped running in pursuit of other failures long ago.
So continue to have unachievable goals, and make every effort to consummate them. Only by trying to accomplish the impossible can you reach the improbable. And here's a wish that your running continues to be unfulfilling forever, as long as there is a tomorrow, and a dream.
Michael Selman Roads Scholar Atlanta Georgia USAMichael Selman is a freelance writer who has appeared in publications and web sites throughout the world, including Runner's World, Footnotes, and CoolRunning.