Almost a month ago I embarked on a roadtrip to Stillwater, Oklahoma, the home of Oklahoma State University. It is the place I called home for four years right out of high school, the first time I had ever lived on my own away from the family and friends I knew for the first 18 years of my life. This is a special place to me because it was where I was forced to spread the metaphorical wings and fly; discovering who I was as a man while at the same time trying to align that with God’s purpose and desires for me. It was a time when friendships and relationships were all created anew, being a little over four hours from most of the people I had surrounded myself with for years. I fell in and out of love a few times while I was there those four years, but this time the process of love was entirely different.
I have been back to Stillwater several times to go to football and basketball games and to work with the equestrian team, but this time around I was dropping into town to run in the 10th annual Remember the Ten Run. It is a weekend celebrating, honoring, and remembering the ten lives that were lost in 2001 in a horrific plane crash. I have run 5K mud runs and different events like this previously, but never a true running only 5K, and I thought it would be worthwhile to be a part of this incredible event. I decided to camp at Lake McMurtry as well because the weather was going to be great, so I packed my tent and other important belongings and made the drive east, to where the smells of Hideaway pizza and Joe’s cheese fries dance in the air welcoming you to town. There are other smells that welcome you to town, but it’s an ag school, so we won’t go into detail on those. The story is not really about the run itself, but just as a side note it was a great success. I got to run and catch up with a good friend from my OSU days and with the exception of a pic surfacing (thanks to him) that made me look like my lungs were about to explode and I would be no more, it was a great time and we finished under our target time.
This story is about AFTER the run. We were finished before Eskimo Joe’s was open for lunch, so I had time to kill and decided to drive around town and relive the glory days for a bit. During the run through campus, I was flooded with memories of on campus apartment living with sand volleyball until 3 AM, intramural legendry and blooper reels, the taste of Taco Mayo potato locos, the smell of old books that I never read inside Edmon Low Library, barely passing organic Chem (both 1 and 2), rushing the field after we beat teams we hadn’t beat at home in years, and more. During the drive around town, I had the same flooding process of living in houses off campus, being terrible at disc golf, waiting tables at an El Chico that has made way to new businesses, and so much more that my head almost exploded. It was a town that I had truly found myself in at such a young age; a place that has a piece of my heart forever and reminded me of that on that day. After a lunch of cheese fries, it was back to the campsite where I would shower the run away and then sit on the lake bank and just reflect. Those that know me well know that even though I’m a very outgoing guy, I’m very much an introvert at heart, and I love to just get away from people, technology, and life and be alone at times. This was very much that time again as I sat on the rock, listening to the waves crashing in, rhythmically creating a nature track that would be harmonized with birds singing, howling winds, and children playing in the distance.
I began to reflect on what the actual run represented and why I even took part in running. This was a run to remember those that couldn’t run anymore, who had their presence wiped away in a split second that none of them saw coming. A run that was established to honor the memories of those that are now just memories. As I reflected on this life and death fact and once again remembered my own memories, something strange happened. I realized that even though I was still alive, I had let myself become very comfortable and stagnant on the inside in a ton of aspects. It was almost a living dead that I had endured for several years, stemming from shallow unmeaningful relationships and friendships, being isolated from true friends and family, and being in business in a location that wasn’t for me anymore (more on those later.) I enjoy life and where I am currently, but I wasn’t truly living life and loving life the way I have in the past. The fire wasn’t out on the inside, I just needed to add more fuel to get it going again. We all have this scenario at random times in life; the key is to recognize it and not merely become a helpless victim.
All too often we try and relive the “good ole days” and reflect on how it used to be alright. We get burnt out with our stressful job, get discouraged because we don’t feel the butterflies with our significant other anymore, get downtrodden at the same old mundane and repetitive schedule of life that we live. We spiral headlong into just existing and enduring in the today while looking forward to a tomorrow that has got to be better while remembering the yesterdays that definitely were. We become infatuated with making the future like the past, always worrying and thinking about tomorrow and reliving yesterday. We are completely forgetting the only way to impact the future is to alter the present. Life is waiting for us TODAY and if we don’t learn to embrace life and embrace love, tomorrow will be more off course than yesterday, leading us to a whole bunch of consecutive todays that were never as good as yesterday.
There are countless posts to make about how to have better relationships, love your job, melt the stress away, but I don’t have time to type all that out. This is a general post about loving life. Get motivated to just enjoy the situation you’re in, and add fuel to that fire for life. If the situation is THAT bad it’s not enjoyable, make changes within that passion for life even if it’s difficult. When you start being active in today, you start to develop a love for life that others see and benefit from as well. The path won’t always be easy and mellow, but when you’re loving through both the thick and the thin, it makes the journey that much more bearable in the trenches. We will never have the good ole days back. That’s the funny thing about great memories; you can never completely recreate the smells, the butterflies, the sounds, or the feelings quite the exact same way they originally were no matter how hard you try. Those memories can never be fully relived; only reflected upon. We must focus on our TODAY. What are we doing today that is going to make our tomorrow better?
On that rock a month ago, I woke up a lot. My todays were just merely existing, not undeniably living. No matter who or how old you are, our todays are numbered and daily being shortened. Since we are never too young for death’s call, it is critical we make the most of everyday we have, with a passion that is unrelenting and unashamed of what other people may think of our absurd love for just being alive. I made a 2016 to do list sitting there on the rock that will be a later post, but it’s in full force going forward. The video below is a compilation of some of Will Smith’s great motivational words. It’s an incredible video that you can’t watch without getting a little on fire for life. If you took the time to read my ramblings, you can take several more minutes to watch this. We need to fall in love with life again and not just be observers of our own passing time. We can’t just do this once or twice and think our lives will be great for the remainder. We must do this on the daily. I fell in love with life all over again in Stillwater at Lake McMurtry West Tent Campsite #6 last month, and hopefully it continues everyday until I have no more tomorrows. I hope we all fall in love again with that significant other, that job, that difficult experience, our family, our friends, our life…everyday.