It was September, 1982.
My wife was in nursing school and our only child at the time, our son Michael, was getting ready to celebrate his four-month birthday. As for me, I was just "downsized." A recent graduate from the University of South Florida, my first position in the real world was just eliminated, a casualty, as explained to me, of a poor economy and the fact that I was the relatively new guy on the staff. Without the seniority enjoyed by other members of management, my supervisor had to make the decision to cut back where it "made sense," and, as a result, my name, among others, was on the short list of downsized employees. One hour later, I found myself walking out the front door with a box containing assorted family pictures and awards for "outstanding effort" on key projects. I left that company with a year of experience, and to the tears of several now former co-workers that I could confidently call "friends," I returned home to a hug that only a loving wife can give, and to a child that looked up to his father with unquestioning love.
For the first time in my life, I was unemployed.
Being newly unemployed, I thought I had just experienced the absolute worse feeling any proud individual could live through, the family breadwinner arriving home for the first time without a job. I was wrong, so very wrong. For me, my feeling of total despair waited until the very next morning. It was then, for the first time in my life, I had no place to go. The reality of my situation finally and utterly completely sunk in. I had to no place to go, no job, and at that point, no career. I stayed in bed and started to cry. Yes, grown men can cry if the right button (or should I say wrong button) is pushed. For at that moment, I had simply no place to go.
As it turned out, I felt sorry for myself for exactly one day. The following day I started my new job: finding a new job!
It is true that you never know what your abilities truly are until you are in a situation that forces you to dig deep and both find and use them. With the loving support of my wife, not to mention many friends and relatives, I started looking, and soon I started my new career in retail, a career path that I still enjoy today. Isn’t it amazing how, when you think all is lost, it is precisely in those moments that all can be gained? (Kinda sounds like the well-known marathon mile 20 wall many runners enjoy hitting!)
Those trials and tough times made me the professional — the man, the father, the person — I am today. For one day — and one day only — I had no place to go. But I soon found out I had a world of opportunities at my fingertips and I started to assess my abilities and developed a plan to find another job and start a new career.
I have often wondered why we runners take as much pleasure in our sport as we do. Why we put up with the wicked summer heat and humidity, the traffic, the bike riders, the proverbial "wall," the port-a-lets, the GU’s, the chafing, the aches & pains, and just about everything else that makes our shared sport so special. And then it finally dawned on me. I believe the reason we love our sport of running is simple; we always have somewhere to go tomorrow. And that "somewhere" is special — special because we have torun to get there.
We never know what we will encounter on the way there, but we know the experience will be better than never trying in the first place. While we all have certainly experienced both the highs and the lows of this sport, I can honestly say that I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of the run- with new experiences seemingly waiting just around the next corner or mile.
Rejoice, fellow runners! You have somewhere to go tomorrow. And the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day…
You may contact BubbleLife Running Columnist Ken Lettre directly at TXMidPack@gmail.com.