Friday, May 11, 2007

Finishing and Keeping Commitments

I heard of a young man who told of his experience in the annual high school cross country race. He said on the practice day, the day before, the teacher took the boys around the course and had a good look at all the hills and the hazards over the 10 km course. He reckoned the prospects weren’t good for those in bad shape.

But the next day before the teacher fired the starting gun he said this, “What I am asking you to do today is to finish the race. If you don’t plan to finish, then I don’t want you to start. Simply stay where you are when the gun is fired. But if you start, then you will finish. You may slow down, you may even pause for a breather but you will not pull out. Once you start, I want you to cross the line no matter what.” The gun was fired and off they all went.

The first kilometre was an absolute breeze, however, by the second kilometre mark any joy he had was beginning to evaporate. At the four km mark whatever energy he had was totally gone and from then on it was sheer drudgery. Some of the others would stop for a while and then fall back into this panting procession. This fellow said his legs were starting to cramp, all his breath was leaving him and his lungs were bursting at the 7 km mark, but one thing and one thing only, kept him going. Before he started he had agreed to finish. His body was had it, his mind was screaming out but the choice and the commitment had been made when the gun went off. It wasn’t open for renegotiation so he kept on running. He couldn’t remember crossing the line. Someone told him he made 5th or 6th but that wasn’t of great importance. The one thing important to him was that he had finished and kept his commitment.

Geoff Pound

Image: Finishing the race.