Jack loved to get up early, make his espresso, take a few minutes to think out his day, and head out on the trail for a good run every morning. He had this big picture window overlooking the natural landscape of Colorado from his kitchen nook. It was his favorite place to drink his coffee, as he was still missing his wife, Megan, who had passed away from cancer a few years before. In some ways, he felt this quiet time in the morning was a time he was inspired by her positivity and he would ask God to bless his day no matter the good times or bad times ahead. He would struggle with worry about how sickness, injury or death could take another loved one from him. He wondered what he was going to do with his life, what his purpose in life was and what would make it worth living again. He had serious doubts that he would ever find enough sustaining joy to take away the void in his heart from the loss of Megan. He tried to shake off those thoughts as Scout, his Akita, was excitedly wagging his tail in anticipation of their morning run. Jack put on his running shoes and they ran out the door and up the trail though the rocky mountain terrain just outside his back door. Jack loved running as he felt it was one part of his life he could control. The trail was a place he could work out his physical and emotional energy and train for upcoming marathons he’d run in support of those who are still struggling with cancer.
As Jack and Scout ran up the dirt trail behind his house, he started thinking about the fastpacking trip he’d just been on with his friend Josh. It was Josh’s first trip and Jack recalled how excited he was to have a newbie out on the trail. He loved how fastpacking worked, because it was like backpacking, but they were able to run the trail with a much lighter backpack. It turned out to be a great overnight trip through the mountains. There was one moment in particular that Jack couldn’t get off his mind, the unexpected blindside of harsh reality. They had just settled into their campsite with the most breathtaking view and enjoying the beauty of the moment and all of the sudden it hit him. He realized he wouldn’t be able to tell Megan about this experience. Josh picked up on what he was feeling and simply said “buddy, I'm so sorry, but you know she is smiling down on you, on us right now”. “You know she wants you to be happy”. Jack's inability to speak only gave way to a head nod.
Scout interrupted Jack's thinking with his repeated barks, bringing Jack back to Scout’s reality that they almost missed the turn to his favorite spot on the lake. As Jack threw the stick in the lake for Scout to fetch, he recognized what a great friend Josh had been during Megan’s illness, and how he continued to check on him after her death. He appreciated Josh for reminding him not to lose sight of all the friends and family who loved him. Josh was instrumental in helping Jack recover by encouraging him to be part of small groups. Men’s groups from church, trail running groups, and other artist groups that Jack could identify with. As this last year passed, Jack was realizing how important these groups were to his recovery. Friends who built each other up, supported, encouraged, and challenged each other to live a more fulfilled life.
Trail running was good for Jack, and it always gave him time to plan and evaluate his life, and most recently, trying to decide how to move forward with his career. Running through the wilderness was exactly where he liked to be when he had so much to think about. His dad had given him a few words of wisdom immediately following Megan’s death by telling Jack that it probably wasn’t the best time to make any big decisions. So Jack continued processing things. He was in awe of the number of people who offered their support. To them, he would be forever grateful. As he crested the corner and saw the jagged rocks, he realized there are key people in his life that truly make a difference. He decided he would take inventory and make a list and thank all of those who had been a support.
He called for Scout to keep up, and he ran faster down the steep side of the mountain, enjoying his new running shoes, and then he felt that surge of power run through his veins. He thought back to when he was a kid, and the key people who were influential in shaping his values. He made a mental list and pinpointed specific family members, friends, teachers and coaches that truly made a difference in his life and helped him become the man that he is today. He knew the future held exciting and wonderful things for him. Jack was looking forward to setting exceptional goals and building some incredible key relationships along the way.
In the next blog, we'll examine how to be intentional with your relationships.
Plan, Invest, Live™