One year ago today I said yes.
2011 was about getting out of my box. Taking chances. Saying yes.
I started following Ben in late 2010. I was inspired by his story. Read his blog here and there. Noticed one day that he was going to be speaking in Chicago and had a meet up run planned. I happened to be off work that morning. So, I thought, gee, why not? Well, um.... meet some strange doode from the internet and go for a run? I know. Some of you say WHAT?!?! And, others say, Um, I do it all the time.
Well, I thought it was weird. And, random. But.... I remembered that I was going to take chances in 2011. So, I would say YES. I would go meet all these people and go for a run.
Ah, but a funny thing happened that morning. We got a little blizzard. Not THE big one from last year. Just a few inches. But, it was blizzard like conditions. So, I got up early that morning and thought, do I still go? Is this the sign that I shouldn't go? Nope. I go. I looked silly getting on the 6:30 am train in full on running attire with all the people around me heading to work. But, I didn't care. I said YES.
I headed to Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) where we were meeting. When I got there there was nobody in site. I mean nobody. I've been to The Bean many times. There is ALWAYS a crowd. Always. There was nobody here. It was kind of eerie. But, I walked up to The Bean. Walked under it. And, there on the other side, was somebody. Brooke. All embarrassed and shy (I really am) I asked if she was there to meet Ben. She, also embarrassed and shy, said yes. We introduced ourselves. Had some small running chatter. Then Casey came up. The same introductions and the same awkwardness. Then... Ben came storming up. Late. Apologizing. Complaining about the weather. Introductions again. Because of the weather only three of us showed up. I'm so glad that only three of us showed up. It was as it was to be.
After a short discussion on where we would run, we were off. We ran along the Chicago Lakefront from Grant Park south. It was snowing like crazy. It was cold. It was beautiful. We all talked a bit about our running journeys. Where we were. Where we wanted to go. We each somehow took turns running alone with Ben. Having our own time talking about him. Talking about us. During my time he made me realize that if HE could do what he had done then I could go further. Further than I ever thought. Ben was the one who made me realize that I could run a marathon. I think I yelled at him a few times for convincing me of this fact. But, at the same time I felt oddly okay with it.
We continued to run, forgetting that we had planned for only a 5k. We ended up with a 5 mile run instead. But, it felt right. Conversation was good. The weather was insane, but awesome at the same time. We ran. We talked. We made snow angels. We did life. We said yes. We went for post run coffee and sat and talked for another two hours. It was a fantastic morning.
Because I said YES.
I said YES. Brook said YES. Casey said YES. And, because we did in one way or another our lives went a different direction. Because of fate. All of us talked afterwards about how we almost didn't show up. But, something made us go. And, because we did we all met. Imagine if Brooke had decided to not go. She would not have met Ben. They would not be engaged now. Wow. Fate.
Claire, however, said, no. She didn't meet us that morning. She had reasons why. But, thankfully, we all met up when Ben came back for another run in the summer. Fate once again brought Claire and me together after the Chicago Rock n Roll Marathon medal engraving. We literally ran into each other as I was walking out of the room. We talked. A lot. About us. Life. Running. Because, we were meant to. Meant to have that moment. So glad we did. Something clicked in me. Something clicked in her. Fate made it so.
I believe in fate. I believe that you experience what you are supposed to experience because it is meant to be. I believe you meet who you are supposed to meet. Because you are meant to meet. But, a lot of that depends on you. On you making choices. Decisions. Taking actions.
Think of times in your life when you made a decision that turned out to be life changing. Now think about how your life would be different if you chose differently. Think about the people in your life that matter to you the most. Now think about if you hadn't met them. Could you have never met them because of a simple decision you did or did not make. Was it a twist of fate that you met them at all?
I got injured. Couldn't run the Chicago Marathon last year. But, I went anyway. And cheered. For friends. Some were close friends. Running partners. College roommates. Some I only met once. Some I never had met in person. But, there I stood on at mile 7. I was supposed to be at 8. But, logistics and timing got in the way. So, there I stood at mile 7. And, among 40,000+ runners, one by one my friends saw me and hollered out. There was no way I could find them. Too hard. Too many people. But, they saw me. Brian, Lisa, Tom, Celeste, Ashleigh, Becky, and...... yes, Casey! Fate. I know some of you will say that they knew to look for me. And, I was looking for them. But, I'm telling you, it's very hard to find runners in that race. I have friends whose families never saw them one time the whole race. No matter how hard they tried. Unless you are wearing a hot pink unitard, it's hard to stand out.
I saw many of my friends again at mile 18. Again, we were supposed to be at mile 15. But, timing and traffic screwed that up. So, nobody expected us to be there. We literally arrived by cab and jumped out and ran to the side of the road to cheer. Within 2 minutes everybody we knew started coming by. Talk about close. Several of them told me later that they were really hurting at that point. (I'll tell you all now that you all looked like death. Ha. ) But, then they saw me. Seeing me. Hearing me cheer them on. Gave them enough energy to go on. Fate. I was supposed to be there. Again. At mile 18. If only to give one person the extra energy to finish that damn race. And, finish every last one of them did.
Of course sometimes fate means something bad can happen too. Because that's life. Fate. It's good. It's bad. The car accident. The bad relationship. It can be bad. It can be very bad in fact. But, it, sadly is how it is to be. Even when it hurts. Because if you survive it, whatever fate gave you that was bad, you are meant to learn from it. And, come out the other side better because of it. It's hard to see that through the pain at first. But, with time, it becomes clearer. And, you become wiser. Next time maybe you will make a different choice. Or maybe not.
Do you go right? Do you go left? Do you stay straight? Do you stop? Which is the right path for fate? Well, they all are. Because whatever one you choose is the one that is meant to be. That's fate.
You are reading this because of fate. Somehow, someway, you found me here. I found you too, perhaps. Many of you kind of fell into my lap in the last year. Well, I guess you kind of didn't. You were supposed to be. Here. But, had I not gone for that run one year ago, I probably wouldn't be here. Pretty sure of it actually.
Sometimes you question the decision. It's only human nature. However, you also have to realize that unless you have a bad feeling in your gut, you must take a chance. You have to take a chance. How can you not take a chance?
Should you tempt fate? If you know it could go wrong. Horribly wrong. Should you still do it? That's a tough one. Depending on what horrible entails. Of course death and serious injury would be a big "if". And, certainly not worth the risk. But, if it just means you might get bruised. Physically or mentally? Huh, I say go for it. Why not. Take the chance. It could also go fantastically right too, correct?
I know I said I would say "yes" less and "no" more in 2012. But, that isn't entirely so. I still will say yes to me. When I think it's the right thing. For me. That may still be saying yes to someone else too.
The only regret you can have in life is regretting something you didn't do.
Just say yes. No regrets.