There's a motivational CD that I like to listen to about once or twice a year. I usually will reach for it when I'm having a particularly negative outlook on life. It helps me to keep things in perspective. There's a story that the speaker tells, which I will attempt to share... but undoubtedly will completely slaughter. I think you'll get the point though.
There is an old Chinese master. One day his prized stallion runs off. His neighbor says, Oh, Wise One, I hear your prize stallion has run away. That's too bad. The Master replies, Yes, the stallion has run away.... but how do you know it's bad?
The next day, the stallion returns bringing with him two beautiful wild stallions. The neighbor sees this and says, Oh Wise One, your stallion has returned with two beauties! That's good news! The Master replies, Yes, the stallion has returned with two beautiful stallions. But how do you know it's good?
Later that week, the Master's son falls trying to break one of the new stallions and fractures his arm. The neighbor, hearing what happened offers his condolences. That's too bad, he says, your son broke his arm. The Master replies, Yes Old Wise One's son broke arm. But how do you know it's bad? Confused, the neighbor walks away.
The next day, the rebel army comes through the town and forces all able bodied men of a certain age to join in their war. The Master's son, being not of able body, was not forced into battle.
The moral of the story (obviously) is that things happen. They are neither good nor bad. It is how we respond to them that makes them so.
I crashed my bike and should have been killed (by some miracle I was spared). My 80 year old grandfather rolled a riding lawn mower (don't even get me started.... WTF was he doing on the mower in the first place?) and ended up bedridden for over 2 weeks and now uses a walker. My dad (who has osteoporosis and severe spinal curvature and accompanying pain) spent 3 days in the hospital because his back spasmed and he couldn't walk. It's been a long week. But I'm not dead. My grandfather is not dead. And my dad has been released from the hospital, hopefully with some instructions on how to take better care of himself. It could have been a lot worse. I know that life is not all sunshine and roses. I know I have to take the bad in order to appreciate the good. I know that every once in a while I'm going to get a wake up call to remind me of what's really important.... the people that I love. Things don't matter. My job doesn't matter. My training doesn't matter. All of these things keep me entertained while I'm here but at the end of the day, if I don't have family or friends to share it with... it's meaningless. I need to live life to the fullest every single day. Throw myself into my Ironman preparation like there's no tomorrow. Plan to visit my family every opportunity that I get. And cherish the one who shares my dinner table and my bed every night. Today is a gift.... that's why it's called the present.