The Ideal

It was less than ideal. The cold rain came down as I attempted to run through the puddled streets. As the miles ticked by, the heat receded from my fingertips and my lips felt the icy sting from the combination of wet and cold. My fickle brain kept asking: ‘Why are you doing this?’ I saw no one else.

When the weather is 70 and sunny — when the skies are clear — these streets are full of every manner of people. Runners, walkers, strollers and bikes clog the sidewalks and trails. When the “ideal” happens, the masses emerge, while these less than ideal days yield only a few brave souls. 

I wonder how many people spend their lives waiting for the conditions to be perfect before they act. They wait for the clouds to break. They wait till they get more money. They wait till they get married. They wait till they get promoted. They spend most of our lives waiting for some ideal day to come.  
For those of us who find ourselves stuck waiting for some ideal future, here are three realities that we must realize:

1. The ideal is a rare occurrence. Of all the given days of the year, most of them are too cold, too hot, too wet, too cloudy, too windy, too humid, or too something. Very few days are just right in the course of a year or a lifetime. If we were to add up those few ideal days and contrast them with the remainder of those we are given, I believe we would discover that most of our lives — most of our runs, most of our days at work — are indeed less than ideal.

2. As with all things, this too is a matter of perception. The same person who complains that the 60 degree day is “too chilly” in the fall will be complaining that it is “too warm” in the spring. One person’s dead end job is another’s dream job. We are indeed fickle shoppers of the ideal, and the perception from one person to the next is weakly correlated. Therefore, we can conclude that in reality the ideal is an illusion of our perceptive systems, our context, our experience and our mindset. Not to suggest that things like frost bite are not real, but our concept of what is ideal is truly more perception than reality.

3. If we spend all our time waiting for the appearance of the ‘white whale’ of an idyllic situation, we will most likely not be ready for it. If I spend my winter binging Netflix and saying “it’s too cold”, when that gorgeous spring day emerges, I will be fat, out of shape, and therefore, unable to enjoy the opportunity of running without the confines of a hat and gloves. If I wait to be promoted to a desired role, I may find that I failed to learn some of the key lessons that would make me successful in that role. By setting my sights so fully on that future state, I may have failed to learn the lessons of the current one. It is on the less than ideal days — indeed the majority of them — that the building blocks of success are laid.

Today is less than ideal. Get over it. That’s just the way it is.

How will you spend it?

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