30 Seconds

My husband used to say that you could endure anything for 30 seconds. And if you could endure a thing for 30 seconds, you could endure it 30 more. Then you’ve gotten to a minute, so you can do a minute more. Before you know it, you’re pushing yourself to hold out to complete a task–no matter how difficult or painful it is.

I’ve used Mike’s words to get me through a lot of difficult tasks in my life. It’s the mantra I repeat to myself during the last 20 miles of a century ride when I’m exhausted and want to stop riding. I think of these words when I’m trying to push through a climb up a difficult hill on my bike. I’ve thought of his words while mountain climbing, working out in the gym (which I absolutely hate doing), running 5Ks, public speaking. Most notably, however, these words have helped me to survive the peaks and valleys of grief, those lonely days and nights I’ve suffered first continuously, then on and off, since he died. I wonder what he’d think to know that some of those philosophies he shared with me I’ve adopted as my own.

Mike didn’t have an easy growing up. And today as I remembered his 30 second philosophy–which came to me while I was climbing Columbia Road in the valley this morning on the way to work–I realized fully for the first time the dark place from which his philosophy might have come. I wonder just what he had to endure in his early life for just 30 seconds so that he could get through 30 seconds more. I can, unfortunately, take some good guesses.

We’re shaped by our experiences, for better or for worse. Whatever led Mike to this place where he could endure and accept his suffering, he found a positive place to apply it. His philosophy could be used to ultimately help him overcome anything. And now he’s passed this wise philosophy on to me and I have used it to not only achieve athletic accomplishments I never would have dreamed, but also to overcome the loss of him in my life.

It’s August. It’s that month. My mind wonders to the past. It’s hard to resist. It’s hard to believe that almost 11 years ago I married the man I love. It’s even harder to believe that he’s been gone so long (nearly 10 years, dare I say). I’ve gotten through all this time in little bits. You can handle little bits, 30 seconds at a time. Pretty soon, you’re up to days and weeks, months and years. It doesn’t hurt so much. Anything you can endure for 30 seconds, you can endure as long as you need to. Even forever.

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2 thoughts on “30 Seconds

  1. I could really relate to the 30-second survival thing. I never really worked that out in my mind, but with the way my childhood was, it would have applied perfectly. As Kat says, I would have liked to have met Mike – but in some ways I do feel like I’ve met him because you keep his memory alive, and not by mentioning him or missing him, but by telling his (and your) stories, by continuing to share your world with him and that world with us.

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