05 August 2016


I just was fortunate enough to be able to do a relay with some very incredible people on a team. The relay was just over 230 miles, and it took three days. We had a team of six, so each of us ran about 40 miles over those three days, through mountains and valleys, past lakes and rivers, in the heat of the afternoon and the cool of the pre-sunrise morning (on one day we started at 4:30). It's obviously an endurance event to a certain extent, but it was also much more than that--it was six people who supported each other, encouraged each other, helped each other, and did the job that they had committed themselves to do in order to help the team.

Relays are a great exercise in letting go of any sort of need to control things. While I was doing my legs, I had control over what I did, of course, but as soon as I hit the hand of the next runner, I was simply an observer, and I had to trust that person to do the best that he or she could do at that time. Usually, that meant a couple of hours of spectating as I waited for my next leg to come up, but it also meant getting to the next exchange zone so that the current runner wouldn't reach it with no one there. And yes, glitches happen sometimes, but for the most part what we learn on a relay race is that we can rely on one another--that we can let go and trust that others are going to come through on what they've said they're going to do.

And even when the glitches do occur, they happen because of honest mistakes, not because of any other reason. A mistake doesn't mean that you can't trust a person any more--a mistake means simply that the person made a mistake and is hopefully a bit wiser now because of it. But mistakes on the part of others are often good because they force you to find a way to compensate or to find out how much you have in you. For example, when my teammates weren't at one exchange zone when I finished a leg, I just had to keep on going. They had misread the directions and ended up at the following zone; my choices were to stop and wait for them or to keep going, and I kept going. They realized their mistake rather quickly and came to me about a mile later; I got in an extra mile of running and it was no big deal.

But for 99% of the time, things went really, really well. We helped each other; we encouraged each other; we ran for and with each other. We enjoyed our surroundings and each other's company, and we kept on racking up the miles as the hours passed.

Over the course of three days we covered just over 230 miles as a team. I ran about 40 miles, and for the other 190 miles I had to trust my teammates to do the best they could do--and they did so. It's nice being in a situation over which I have no real control except for my own contribution--and in which it's necessary for me to trust others. Our society tries to tell us that it's important to trust only yourself and to take care of everything you need yourself, but our society is wrong. Independence can be important sometimes, but interdependence and cooperation are much, much more important to our world and to our spirits.

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