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Modern Enlightenment

The mind is an interesting place to me. As a kid and now, at nearly 31 years of age, I've had this fascination with digging deep and discovering my mind's full potential. However, the young version of me lacked work ethic and was naturally equipped with bare minimum effort, making this quest a venture turned to burden.

To begin, I’ll introduce myself: my name is Ryan. I’ve worked at DNA for 1 year. I genuinely LOVE working here. Today, I owe everything that I am to active lifestyle, nature, and the intrinsic “high” from helping others. These have kept me thriving, adding constant improvement and newly "tweaked" angles towards my outlook on life.  

Throughout my experience, I came to actualization with my own lack of clarity regarding values and direction. This came to fruition as I re-discovered distance running at 26 years old. To reiterate “re-discovered”, I mean this:

Distance-running, a sport I'd become well-acquainted with from 11 to 18 years old and lost passion for after high school, appeared in new light like it had never existed to me before.

In this "new light", I discovered that distance running can depict life in endless philosophical ways. It’s a key reason for my admiration of this sport. Through each pair of worn-down running shoes, I attain life lessons, actionable advice, and a deeper perspective on life’s journey. In this way, whether I’m trying to get in the "zone", face fears or doubts, live in the moment, find stress relief, build and sustain habit(s), or instill discipline... running has become an awesome teacher, for my mind, body, and soul. 

There’s a lot of magical learning inside of the miles. Here’s a few things I learned:

  • I learned about me. I learned about my “true” desires.

I lacked clarity of mind and running cleared this up. I learned that I really loved the feeling I’d experienced from motivating others that knew of my running journey. I learned that I enjoyed giving advice to others, specifically actionable advice and translating complex topics into information that’s easily understood by using analogy or something relatable. After spending my entire 20s in frustration with finding my career, I knew at 29 years old with 100% certainty, that I wanted to become a teacher and a coach. Now, I am almost 31 years old, and I am months away from student teaching. I never would have found my joy for teaching and coaching without running. I’m blessed to give back to the sport and its youth today through being an assistant cross-country coach at the junior high level. Additionally, I am an assistant coach to the distance team of my former high school track team, alongside my own former coach who has always been a huge role-model in my life.

  • I learned about patience.

Patience is being fully aware that a desired outcome appears after you put the time, effort, and work in. This is true for anything in life. I can’t run or study a topic for one day and expect instant results. But I can practice patience, persistence, and self-awareness in realizing that repeated exposure over time will allow me to learn anything or master any sort of craft chosen.

  • I learned to follow through & finish what I start.

This year, I’ve entered my 5th year of consistent running. My running journey has measured 12,000+ miles in 50 months, nearly 1,500 hours of running. I have plenty of days that I want to give in and stop. But I’ve learned to keep pushing forward. More importantly, I’ve learned that running, like life, isn’t a linear path. It’s full of ups and downs, ebb and flow. Running has taught me the importance of setting a goal and having the determination to finish, even when setbacks and difficulty arise. By following through, running has helped rewrite the story I tell myself. 

  • I learned to embrace suffering.

Quite unexpectedly, running re-shaped my perspective, my work ethic, my internal and external language, and my introverted self…. for this re-shaping, I give credit to the mental side of running. The constant fight it brings with my mind to “keep pushing” when everything inside screams “stop” is now something I embrace and look forward to because I know that true growth occurs during discomfort. Anything worth achieving is often more about sticking with it long enough and being able to persist despite discomfort.

To conclude, I’ll leave you with this:  

Next time you feel like giving up, remember: Instead of waiting around on the side lines and hoping to live a happy life, get up, get out and be ready to work and work hard for what you want.  Along the way, you’ll learn more about yourself than you have ever known.  You will find a confidence, an energy, and a will to live you have never felt before.  When you hear the voice whisper, “no I can’t”, scream “yes I can”.  Be self-sufficient and sustainable.  Don’t allow your mind to destroy you and keep you down; “subdue it and be its master”.  Life isn’t meant to become stagnant; it’s meant to be fulfilling and enjoyable; wake up, get up and make it what you dream it to be.