Pushing through the hours

Those of you who read 168 Hours know that I used the HARO (Help a Reporter Out) email list for finding some of my more random subjects. HARO was founded by Peter Shankman, who went on to sell the service and in what seems to be a growing trend among entrepreneurs who cash out, did an Ironman triathlon.

I really enjoyed reading his account of the race, because it shows, clearly, that many things in life that are ultimately meaningful are not fun in the moment. Being stung by jellyfish during the swim component? Not fun. Headwinds during a 112 mile bike ride? Also not fun. And, as I can attest from doing Big Sur in April, running a marathon is not exactly fun either (though at least I didn’t do it after swimming and biking!) But as I told myself as I was sitting on the bus to the start line at 4:30AM, in a few hours this will all be over. It has to be, because they’ll open the roads up again. Most likely I will be at the finish line when they do that. And so it’s just a matter of getting there, one mile or even one minute at a time.

Often, when we think about time, we think about saving a few minutes here, seizing time, or what have you. But sometimes, time becomes about pushing through and hoping it goes quickly. Its ephemeral nature can be a blessing. I have felt that way sometimes on flights with my small children. A flight cannot last forever. Even if it’s a 10-hour flight, it is only 10 hours. Probably, the baby won’t scream for all of it. So enjoy the few minutes where he isn’t, and that old German man who keeps coming back to shake his fist at you in anger goes back to his seat. Even the worst bouts of norovirus seldom last more than a few days. Labor? I’ve maxed out at 8 hours. A pregnancy won’t last more than 41-42 weeks (and the middle chunk of that is not so bad). I once willed myself through a zip-line tour of the rainforest canopy in Nicaragua even though I am deathly afraid of heights by noting that in 90 minutes I’d be eating lunch. Did I make it through this minute? Yep? Then only 89 more to go.

Ultimately, you learn that you can view something that is currently unpleasant with a bit of detachment. Yes, I feel awful now. But I can see through to the other side, and I will not feel awful forever. Time will keep going. It never stops. Sometimes that is alarming. But sometimes, it’s a relief.

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4 thoughts on “Pushing through the hours

  1. I like this concept. Studying is not fun, but achieving the Masters will be rewarding… sometimes you have to get through the unpleasant to reap the rewards of the pleasant.

  2. It’s also a good parenting philosophy. A lot of stuff we stress about as parents just work themselves out. Sleep training for example I found to be a waste of time… And even the drama of potty training. As long as you make some effort to be a half-decent parent most stuff works itself out over time and though the days are long, the years are short and we tend to remember the picture moments — the picture with santa, not the time spent outside waiting for it.

  3. Love the image of the German man shaking his fist at you on the plane! Reminds me of getting reprimanded by a total stranger in a restaurant in Munich because my coat was touching his coat on the banquette seating–oh, the horror! Not.

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