Friday, February 15, 2013

I Think I Can

After a satisfying birthday dinner at my in-laws last weekend, we retired to the family room to relax and continue our dinner conversation. A copy of "Where the Sidewalk Ends", by Shel Silverstein was lying on the coffee table, and Twirly picked it up and began to read selected poems aloud. The book was a favorite of my youth, with its squiggly line drawing illustrations and quirky, rhythmic verses, but I have not thumbed its pages in quite some time. Sitting there listening to Twirly showcase the poems like no one else could, a day after the American Canyon 50K, she read one that was serendipitously appropriate, and I would like to share it with you here.

The Little Blue Engine

by Shel Silverstein

The little blue engine looked up at the hill.
His light was weak, his whistle was shrill.
He was tired and small, and the hill was tall,
And his face blushed red as he softly said,
“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
So he started up with a chug and a strain,
And he puffed and pulled with might and main.
And slowly he climbed, a foot at a time,
And his engine coughed as he whispered soft,
“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
With a squeak and a creak and a toot and a sigh,
With an extra hope and an extra try,
He would not stop — now he neared the top —
And strong and proud he cried out loud,
“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!”
He was almost there, when — CRASH! SMASH! BASH!
He slid down and mashed into engine hash
On the rocks below... which goes to show
If the track is tough and the hill is rough,
THINKING you can just ain’t enough!

While it is romantic to believe that "I Think I Can" is enough to persevere in life's difficult moments, I know that it took more than determination to get me to the finish line last Saturday, although determination to succeed helped tremendously to motivate my training. The sweat equity was really what got me there. The hours upon hours spent meditating on the trail, using all that super-oxygenated blood to do some of my best musing, were what I needed when the track got tough, and the hill got rough.

So, while thinking you can is a prerequisite for success, it takes hard work too. And some might say that the glory lies in that effort, in the long road leading to the goal, instead of the goal itself.

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