Chasing Shadows

On the hot runs we take every advantage to stay as cool as we can; a feat that is much harder than it sounds in Florida. We load down with as much water as we can carry, wear moisture-wicking shorts and shirts, and hats that take the sweat off our brow.

Anything we can do.

While running along a local route a few years ago I caught myself doing something subconsciously that I am dubbed “chasing the shadows“. The trail followed a nice 4.2-mile circle through oak-lined streets. At one part it juts off to the left toward a local YMCA and ballparks, which are also nicely lined with trees. The trick is that the trees are on one side of the street, and there are parts that are broken up, so depending on the time of day you are running the shadows can be anywhere. What I was doing this day was locating the shadiest portions and crossing streets here and there to stay under the shade as much as possible, even though it costs you a little bit in pace to wait for cars, or slowing down a bit to spend a little more time under the cool oaks. It makes for an easier run.

At least in your mind.

Runs being what they are, your mind can tend to wander, and I catch myself doing this all the time. I started thinking about “chasing shadows” during this run and then started thinking about how we do this in many aspects of our lives. We chase shadows in personal lives, trying to find the easiest way to live in order not to feel the uncomfortableness of the “sun” or the “heat”. We try to find the easiest path. We also do it in our work. We don’t go for the hardest job, or the one we really want, because we have bought into the belief that money is more important than liking what you do or enjoying your job …. so we leave positions that we love to make more money and end up hating every minute of the day.

So what’s the lesson? Do we stay uncomfortable in the heat, or seek the easiness of the shadows?

When I lost my job at a cancer center and spent the better part of a year unemployed it was eye-opening to me. I left a position that I loved, and with people I enjoyed working with, to take a job that offered more money and opportunity, and KNEW within two weeks that it was a mistake. But I gritted my teeth and did the best job I could, which went essentially unappreciated by the majority of people I worked with and eventually costing me my job because of a childish grudge by a staff member. Normally someone who had done a good job and made huge improvements would be fought for in this situation, but I was terminated, for a practice, MANY people at this company did and NOT been terminated over. I am not saying that I did not make the mistake, because I most certainly did, but if you have read me enough you know that fairness and equal treatment is a big thing with me. I was singled out and made an example of when others were doing the same thing, and that just doesn’t sit well with me, even 7 years later.

So the lesson is this … make decisions that are good for your soul, not for your wallet. Money cannot be the main focus of your decision-making. There is nothing wrong with chasing shadows to give yourself a second wind, but eventually you have to get back out in the sun and learn how to survive in it. Surround yourself with those that support you and stand by you, and rid yourself of those that do not.

And ALWAYS hydrate …. with whatever you require to sustain yourself ….

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