At least three times a week I run 5 miles. I live in a historic area of Atlanta, GA so the scenery is quite charming. The path is full of historic homes from the early 1900s and the occasional plantation home – now surrounded by urban development instead of farmland.
My run happens in stages.
For the first mile my brain is disconnected. This is the most congested part of my run. I focus on avoiding traffic, crossing intersections, a train track, and clearing my mind.
Miles 2-5 are where the magic happens. I’m in the zone. My mind drills deep into itself. My thoughts follow through no particular path, create hypothetical situations, and eventually lands in some place I find enjoyable or helpful.
Sometime I relive college wresting matches in painstaking detail. I shoot – take the opponents leg – circle, circle, circle – head in leg, finish the takedown!
Other times I walk through scenarios at work or home. How to treat my family better. How to be successful at work. Always in great detail. I visualize body movements, voice inflection, outcomes, and various alternatives. I see myself sitting behind a desk at work. Moving my arms confidently as I discuss a project. Remember to smile. Listen, head nod, courtesy.
Sometimes I think about my death bed too, but not because I’m afraid of dying. Because I want to be at peace with death when I get there. By thinking about my death bed I’m really contemplating life.
I see myself lying back with oxygen running to my nose. There is always natural sunlight hitting my face because my bed is near a window. In my vision I know my family is there, but I always focus on my face as if I am a camera man staring from the foot of the bed. Maybe the view a small grandchild would have.
In my final moments I close my eyes and smile. I smile.
Two phrases have become quite important to me over the years:
1. On my death bed I want to close my eyes and smile knowing that I have given life everything I have.
2. We are given one life, one chance, we should live that way.
Neither of these ideas are unique or original, but I take them seriously as part of my vision of life and death. Instead of being a cliche’ quote I’ve consciously tried to put these ideas into action. I can’t tell you how many trips I’ve booked immediately following a long run. Or how many times I’ve come home and been a better father or husband.
For me, very little happens by accident. Most things I have been truly successful with have come from hours of deep thought and mental preparation. Long runs or laying in bed at night – just thinking. Then taking those thoughts and putting them to action.
You are given one life, so you should live that way.