We hear it time and again. We’ve even said it ourselves. It’s the little things. It’s a colloquialism because, well, it’s true. It’s a saying because throughout time it’s held. Throughout generations, its validity has borne out.
Over the weekend, we had the great opportunity to take a spin on the Christmas in July 24-hour course (after being deferred from 2020) and it came down to the little things. It always, always does. Sometimes I tell myself I can skip steps because I don’t feel like staying focused. Sometimes I tell myself it won’t matter if I stray from my plan just this mile. Why do I do this? I know it comes down to the little things. And yet, I try to hedge, I try to be the exception. It’s ridiculous, really, and invariably in a race this long I forget that the little things universally become big. It’s the natural order of life.
A little rub of a shirt tag in mile 1 is a blister in mile 20. A skimp on calories in mile 10 is a blood sugar crash in mile 30. It’s the little things because it, like all of life, is accumulates by a magnitude.
In reality, it’s not that the little things are small. It’s that every single thing in this life is constructed brick by brick, layer by layer. If you don’t provide the resources for success, you by default provide the tools for your destruction. Whatever you are consistently feeding gets larger. Period. The end.
Saturday, I fed my body fairly well. But what was a misstep was I also consistently fed the mental frustration I was experiencing with the unrelenting, oppressive heat. After several hours, I let it own me and my headspace. Its unwillingness to back down was only matched by my unwillingness to accept it. I made the tactical error to imagine that I could match wits with Mother Nature and that I could prevail. I know, I know, I just wrote poetically and philosophically a few weeks ago about making peace with the heat. And to be fair to me, I handled it far better than I ever have. There were some real victories here and yet, I knew I was straying from my focus even while I was doing it. I let pain have a voice even though my husband reminds me not to, ALL THE TIME. I was feeding the desire to complain even though I knew it wasn’t helping me. I was building the frustration that would eventually crush my own spirit. This is what it means when we say it’s about the little things. They accumulate by a magnitude.
Do you know what else accumulates? Grit. See you thought we were going down a dark path to nowhere, but never fear. My husband, on the other hand, battled nausea and the heat calmly and quietly. He didn’t feel well. I knew he didn’t. But he didn’t complain. He tried different tactics. He took breaks. He was patient and he was committed. He adjusted to Plan B, or whatever his backup was. I was already on Plan D or E by this point. And all the while he was cool under pressure. In fact, not only did he take breaks to try to recover, but he also spent some of that time preparing food for me so that I could continue! This is what it means to be part of a team. John always puts my success at the level of his own. He didn’t have the day he planned and yet he never wavered in his support for me. This is what it means when we say it’s about the little things. They accumulate by a magnitude.
We finished our 24-hour adventure, not at the distances we hoped, but we are better for it. I won’t speak for John but I have learned, as I always do, more about myself. I have learned where my edges are rough, where I am undisciplined, where I lack grace, where I am, frankly, selfish. I have also been reminded, yet again, what it means to be supported in a way that allows you to open your arms a little wider to an adventure that scares you and know someone will catch you if you need it. This is what it means when we say it’s about the little things. Life requires us to look at what we feed, what we support. What we are building little by slowly. Whatever it is, well you know, it accumulates.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G