The Time You Have

“Do what you can in the time you have.” That’s my mantra.

Today I loaded up my ruck and the dog and we went on an 8-mile hike. Twice around the park adjacent to our house and four times down to the beach and back up again. 

I always start these sorts of training hikes thinking I can go faster or further than I can. I’m fatter now (just clocked in at 203 this morning) than I’ve ever been before in my life and I turn 50 next September, so I suppose there are reasons I’m slower than I used to be. Still, today’s hike was cut short not by my ability or even speed – I maintained a respectable average of 4 MPH with a full ruck – rather it was just the time I had.

I came back when I did because I have responsibilities and things to do. Words need to be written. Blah blah blah. The two hours I spent on the trail were literally the time I had.

The hike did give me plenty of time to think. One of the things I thought about was the hike this summer and what I’d do when it gets tough. There may be rain, I may get hurt or just be miserably tired. A plague of locusts may descend from the heavens. I could wade, up to my elbows, through a field of poison oak, naked. You get the point. That’s how it started and I took a moment, one each, to rationally shoot them out of the thought bubble above my head. But even that doesn’t really help. I need something that simple I can call upon. Some easy words to remember that may see me through.

Then it occurred to me that I’d recently seen someone tweet a graph of 90 rows with 52 columns. They’d colored all the weeks they’d lived gray, a few rows in the middle green, and the last 20 or so kind of a light red. This graph tweaked my nose a little because I probably won’t see those last 20 rows. I could let that thought take control and overwhelm me, it would be easy and I’ve had lots of practice. But I’ve still got 20 green rows left.

So, “DO WHAT YOU CAN IN THE TIME YOU HAVE.” My hike may get shortened this summer because I don’t have all the time I’d like, but I get those rows in green.

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