I've mentioned that I've done a few triathlons (swim-bike-run). In one of my posts I eluded to a person being one of the very last out of the water during a tri; that was me, in case you didn't catch that. I don't really know how to swim. Sure, I can stay afloat and move my body through the water, but it's not with any grace, that's fo' sho'. I don't know any real strokes. But, sure, sign me up for a triathlon in open water with hundreds of other swimmers splashing around me! It's scary and I am s-l-o-w. The bike portion isn't all that awesome either. AND I'm not a very fast runner. But slow and steady wins....errr *ahem* scratch that...finishes the race in a sweaty heap. But the point is that I finished, darn it!
I have a story to share from one of my triathlons. This is taken from my personal blog right after it happened:
I was coming to the last portion of the race and way ahead I saw this guy walking. My first thought was, "Good. Someone to pass." I'm kind of competitive but not super fast, so when I see that I can pass someone, that gives me a little adrenaline kick and some sort of thrill. I know, not very nice. There was another group of girls that were running slower and I had just passed them. We were coming into the home stretch. I was coming up on this guy who I had seen walking for quite some time and just as I passed him I touched his arm and said, "Run!" I don't know what surprised me more - that I said it or that he actually responded. He immediately started running alongside me. As we were running I said, "You push me and I'll push you." He sounded desperate and on the verge of tears and said, "I'm trying!" "You're doing great! Just keep going," I said. I have to tell you that I felt electrified from my head to my toes. Literally. It was physical. I felt so proud of this man I did not know. I was pulling for him and suddenly didn't care about my own race anymore. I wanted him to feel great about his finish. I was on the verge of tears myself, but for a different reason. The end of a race always feels emotional to me and this was adding a different element to that emotion. He gasped, "How much longer?!" I told him that we were almost there, it couldn't be more than .2 miles. Suddenly we came around a corner and there was the finish line, lined with people cheering. I said, "Come on!" and we kicked it up and ran our hearts out to the finish. I heard his wife or some lady cheering for him as we were reaching the finish line.He and I didn't talk afterward (like either of us could talk at that point), but it was a really cool experience for me. All I could think about for the rest of the day was how good it felt to help someone else to the finish line. It was a different kind of feeling at the finish than I've ever had before. I'm tearing up just typing this out and thinking about it.
I was not the best triathlete, but I think I made a tiny difference in how this man felt about how he finished. And it was my best experience yet. Taking the focus off of my finish time made it so much more enjoyable! In subsequent races I have been the one lifted by a word of encouragement from a fellow runner at the time I most needed it. Sometimes we do the lifting and sometimes we are the ones who need the lift. That's true of all service, isn't it?
Focusing on others can make a world of difference in how we feel about our particular "race". So I encourage you to just ACT. If you have the thought to do something for someone, just do it. You may not know how it will affect their life, but it will affect you for the better. Guaranteed. Don't wait to have more or to be more, you are ENOUGH to make a difference now.