a last place finish is still a finish

It is January 2 of a brand new year. Yesterday, as hopefully you know, was January 1st. New Year’s. A new year in every way. I didn’t realize until now how much I love the new year. It’s because I live in constant fear of my own mistakes and in constant regret when I make them. I am bad at letting things go. And the beautiful thing about a new year is that you get a free pass to crumple up that previous one with any exponential number of regrets and drop it in the nearest trash receptacle. And then you get to take out that fresh, white piece of paper and pretend that maybe this year…this year...it will be different. I will be different. I will do that thing. I will make the change. I’m sorry this turned into Man in the Mirror. That was subconscious, I assure you.

I saw the memes all over Facebook yesterday and each time there was a different country singer credited as the author. (Someone  has a good lawsuit waiting.) It said: “Today is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.” There is something to this. I buy in 100%. Especially on January 1. Because as of yesterday, I hadn’t done a single thing poorly. Not one thing! I was 100% successful. My book was awesome. Riveting. Inspirational.

Wanting to celebrate my 90 minutes of mistake-free New Year’s Triumph (it was 9:30 a.m.), I took my new fitness tracker and went out on a walk.  Shortly into this walk, I encountered a runner wearing a race bib. This person wasn’t exactly running. Nor were the stragglers behind him. It became clear to me within moments of my first racer sighting that this was the end of the race. The very end. These guys had been at it for awhile. They had been BEAT UP by this race. And as I climbed the only hill in my flat central FL tinytown, I saw the last place runner coming toward me. I know she was last place because she was being followed by a police car with his lights on. So either she was being arrested for running too slow, or he was the cop signaling the end of the race.

This woman was struggling. She was barely in it. I visually took her in, as much as I could, in the few moments we intersected. I somewhat unintentionally locked eyes with her briefly as she continued her woggle (jog + walk + wobble) down that hill, and she managed a weak, sheepish, almost apologetic smile at me. It was a smile that said she was embarrassed. She was sorry she wasn’t faster, thinner, nimbler, edgier. She seemed sorry it was her in front of that cop car. She seemed sorry I saw her. Sorry we made eye contact. She’d been caught in last place. But I wasn’t sorry at all. Because right then it hit me: A last place finish is still a finish. She was slow, sure. She was struggling, clearly. But she was IN THAT RACE. She had a bib on. She wore the sweat like a trophy. She had the cop car behind her. She was going to finish that race. And she did.

Me? I didn’t even know about the race until I turned off my street to take my January 1 Victory Walk. I wasn’t in the race at all. Last place was ahead of me. This year, I want in on the race. I want in. I want to be official. So I’ve picked a word I’ve been thinking about for years but never turned into a profit. This year I want to be intentional. I will do life intentionally.

I am entering the race. On purpose. Intentionally. And if I finish last, I still finish. And in good company, I’m just guessing.

That’s the goal.

Happy New Year!

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