One of my favorite things to do in life is to look at where I am living in the past. Whether it be some great victory or some crushing defeat I am learning to solidly put these behind me and continue to move forward. My favorite mantra when I am doing a long run over 20 miles is simply “keep moving forward”. It is probably my mantra for life. I first came up with this on my 50th birthday as I was attempting to run 50 miles. My mom and dad surprised me by having a reporter from our local media company track me down the day of my run and interview me for a feature that actually aired that night on television. I didn’t see it because I was spending a lot of time recovering and eating with my family but somewhere out there is a tape of this. Anyway, one of the things this reporter asked me at the top of a hill around mile 27 or so was why I was doing this. I told her something about wanting to start the second half of my life strong and that I couldn’t think of something that would ingrain in my spirit strength like running 50 miles in the July heat. She then asked me what my plan was to be able to do this and I simply replied “keep moving forward and don’t think of the miles already behind.” I believe that this is what causes us to move into who we were designed to be, that spirit that says “no matter what has already happened, how many miles are under my feet I am just going to simply keep moving forward.” Our forward movement is what gets us places in life but so many people I know are still dwelling in the past – either the positive past or the negative past or a combination of both – and all it is doing is bogging them down and keeping them from running this grand ultra marathon of life.
Paul said this so much better than me (as he does a lot of things) in Philippians 3:12-16 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”
I could leave it right there and let it soak in. All you are being asked to do in this ultra marathon of life is to forget what is behind you, it’s behind you and there’s nothing you can fix or do better. There is no victory in the past that is going to equip you for the future unfolding in front of you. Sure you can learn from everything but each and every single day you have on this earth is going to unfold in a different way with different challenges and stresses, different joys and reliefs, and the only way you can press on toward the goal to win the prize is to keep moving forward without the weight of what is past. I have done this many different ways in my life but the most spectacular and clear way I ever did this was to just write down on a piece of paper all the things I had accomplished and all of my failures I was still holding onto. And then I created my Philippians 3:13 trash can. It was metal and all I did was take the paper that I had written down everything I could remember up to that point in life and I lit it on fire and dumped it in the trash can. I watched my victories and defeats go up in flames and then I could confidently say quietly but assuredly “Okay God let’s keep moving forward.”
Living an ultra life means letting the past go where it belongs, the past. An ultra life is best lived continually moving forward.