Whether You’re First or Last, We All Get the Same Shirt!
On May 23, 2012 | 8 Comments | Life Changes, writing | Tags: , , ,

The rhododendron is a relative of the azalea, which is prolific in Houston — a link between the old and the new in our lives!

Last weekend was the Rhody Festival here in heavenly Port Townsend. “Rhody,” for those not in the know, is short for “Rhododendron,” and the plants were more than happy to show off their vivid, colorful blooms in response to their special week. From bed races to kiddie parades and a carnival, the Rhody Festival is a slice of small-town life not to be missed by newbies such as ourselves.

Sunday was the Rhody Run, a 12-kilometer (roughly 7.5 miles) journey along town streets, into the woods, and the occasional water view. In a moment of insanity community spirit, I signed hubby and I up for it. We are not runners — neither of us enjoys the pounding on our knees. We are hikers, though, and enjoy our long walks, so why not?

We added another two or so miles to our journey by walking to and from the start, where we joined 2,00o+ of our new best friends in this quest for…what was it, exactly? I guess we were feeling the pull of “I climbed the mountain because it was there.” We could have stayed home and gazed out the view room, where it was warmer and drier!

Of the 102 women in my age group, 29 finished behind me. Only six finished behind the hubby. Our stats looked better among those who walked the course, but still. And then there was the woman who appeared to be at least 20 years older than I who was not only jogging the course, but backtracking at times to add distance to her run. Every time she left us in the dust yet again, hubby would look at me and whine. Me? I want to be like her when I grow up.

Vivid color is everywhere! This photo was taken at Butchart Gardens near Victoria, B.C.

Though late to the finish line, we got there, and we got there faster in large part because we were surrounded by others. We wanted to keep up the pace. There’s nothing like a little peer pressure to speed up the legs! At the end, we walked hand in hand across the finish line as the announcer said, “Now crossing the finish line: Henry Feldman!” (Yeah, all that and I didn’t even get to hear my name — grrr.)

Along the course, several locals had stood at the edge of the road to cheer us on. Signs promised inspiration, such as reminders that there would be beer at the end of the course. The one that stood out for me the most was, “Whether You’re First or Last, We All Get the Same Shirt!”

I loved getting that shirt. It’s a navy blue quick-dry material, with a fiesta of flowers. I earned that shirt, and I’m going to love wearing it!

Maybe we don’t just walk the course “because it’s there.” Maybe we need to be reminded about how our lives are like the Rhody Run. We don’t have to compete to be good enough. We walked our race and were pleased with our times. We finished the walk; we didn’t quit. Most importantly, we surrounded ourselves with people who helped us be better, just from the benefit of their presence and experience.
As a writer, I am, of course, looking for an audience. That process, like my walking, is often slower than I would like. Each book has its own gestation time that can’t be rushed. Even the blogging continues to morph over time as I seek my particular niche. In the meantime, I watch as some wonderful bloggers are breaking through and building bigger audiences. I cheer them as they run by, even though a little part of me says, “Will I ever have that?” Then there are the authors who pop out books like rabbits making babies, working at an astonishing clip. I will never be that kind of author.

The scent of lilacs wafts into our home through open windows.

And yet, I keep walking. I keep writing. I get discouraged at times, but I get up every morning and do it all over again. I study and work on my craft. And even when that little voice of jealousy perks up, I still enjoy and appreciate the beauty of those who run while I walk. Their success only shows me what is possible with persistence and work. I bow in admiration! In the meantime, many of you have sent me warm, encouraging messages, and I have found friends among my readers — something I value more than you know. It’s a rich journey that I’m grateful to take, even if the success of it takes a different form from what I expected.

You see, I’ve figured out one thing. Whether you’re first or last, we all get the same shirt. Might as well stay on the course!

Nothing like a parade (complete with fresh caramel corn bought from an enterprising vendor) to bring out the kid in all of us!

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