Sunday, December 19, 2010

An Ultrarunner's New Year's Resolution (or, Quit Your Bitchin'!)

It's about that time of year when you start reflecting on the past and planning for the future. As the year draws to a close, I find myself running over in my mind all the things I did, both good and bad. I remember fondly my triumphs and I try to learn from my downfalls. It's time to formulate New Year's resolutions.

New Year's resolutions are helpful because they reinforce the possibility of change, the promise of a better tomorrow. They are psychological tools that allow you to realize change is within your grasp. What can I do (or not do) to alter the course of my life for the better? If nothing else, they imply a positive attitude.

So what is my New Year's resolution? I was looking back at some of my Facebook status updates and noticed an alarming trend:
"Law school suuuucks."
"I hate law school."
"This sucks."
"Kill me."
"I feel like crap."
"I am fat."
"I hate studying."
"Is this really my life?"
I am somewhat ashamed to read back on these posts. It would appear I have become quite a negative person. It never occured to me that I complain so much. Did it do any good? Probably not. If anything, it made me feel worse. Things are hard enough already without being so negative and cynical. So why complain about that which you cannot change? There really is no point. And there's no honor in it.

Allow me to digress for a moment and tell you some personal information. This summer, my dad went into the hospital and stayed there for about two months. He had to have his leg amputated due to complications from his diabetes. Every day, my mom, my sister, and I would go see him. There was a time when things were not looking good. The doctors thought he was dying. He developed a bad infection on his leg. He was running a fever. He was delirious. The doctors were doing all they could. All we could do here at home was pray.

Eventually, my dad did get better. The infection went away and the fever subsided. But, my dad had lost his leg. When he came home from the hospital, he had to adapt. Confined to wheelchair, he had to make his way around using what he had. Then, one day, the doctors were able to get him a prosthetic leg.

It was very difficult getting used to the prosthesis, like learning to walk all over again. In fact, he is still getting used to it. He has lost his balance and fallen down. The phsyical therapy is helping. He is getting stronger every day. I have full confidence that soon he will be up and about like nothing.

Why do I tell you this? Well, in all the days, weeks, months, that my dad spent in the hospital, after all the pain and heartache, through the misery and hell of losing a limb, not once did I ever hear my dad complain. Not once did I ever hear him curse or grumble. Not once did I ever him lament his situation.

It would have been easy to throw in the towel, whimper and whine into a corner, get bitter. What he went through - is still going through - sucks. It really does. Life, sometimes, is a bitch, and it fucking blows. You get hurt. You feel angry. I don't deserve this. This wasn't supposed to happen to me. But, you have to move through it. You don't get over it, you move through it. Anger is just not a very useful emotion in the long-run. The most it will get you is a few quick spurts of energy and then you are back where you started. Optimism and hope are much more productive, long-lasting emotions.

In the end, you do the best you can and you try to enjoy the little things.

These days, my dad laughs all the time. He listens to good music (some Charlie Parker or Miles Davis on the stereo), eats good food, and smiles big. He is enjoying life.

I want to be like him.

I want to enjoy life. I want to realize my blessings and savor them. How can I do that if I am always complaining, always seeing the bad side of things instead of the good?

So here it is, my New Year's resolution for 2011: I, Gerard Martinez, hereby promise to focus on the good things in life instead of the bad, to stay positive and hopeful even when the world around me is crumbling to pieces; I promise to be joyful, to count my blessings and be forever grateful for the gift of life; I promise to enjoy this life to the fullest because it is precious and you only get one shot at it.

Happy New Year's and happy running!

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