I run through Governor Nelson State Park, crunching through the autumn leaves and sweating from an Indian Summer sun. My goal of running for 60 minutes seems impossible, but I’m too scared to quit early. With an upcoming 10K, I need proof that I can finish a 6.2 mile trail run. The only thing that is more painful than running until you are in too much pain to continue is doing so in front of a cheering crowd. I start slow and tell myself I will quit after 30 minutes if I want to. I loop through the woods, around the effigy mounds, and to the shore of Lake Mendota. When my watch reads 27:13, I decide I could hold out until 40:00. When I next look at my watch and see 42:17 minutes, I think I can make ’til 50. I feel tired, but happy. I have but one goal: run to pass the time.
One single goal. These days, that is an absolute luxury. As an MBA student, I multitask like I never knew possible. On the bus, listening to NPR’s Planet Money, I glance over my reading for Marketing 700 and hide from early morning behind oversized sunglasses, even on cloudy days. At my desk in the Weinert Center, I work on the day’s task for my Project Assistantship, drink 2 cups of coffee from my carafe, print the handouts for Entrepreneurial Management 722, and try to wake up. In class, I’m taking notes, trying really hard to wrap my mind around standard deviations and discount factors, thinking about what to have for lunch, and asking myself why coming back to school was a good idea. And in the moments between, I am constantly asking myself, What could I be doing to sell more books?
It sometimes feels like I spend my day under someone’s thumb. The days of self-employment when I ran my own schedule, set my own deadlines, and chose my own teammates have started to become faded memories. I remind myself that it is my own thumb holding me down in seat in the lecture hall when I want to be anywhere but. Coming back to get my MBA was a choice, an opportunity. I want to learn how to grow my publishing business, to help bring Project Japale Goune to sutainability, and to make lots of money doing what I love. (I already know how to make a little money doing what I love, so why not ramp it up?) The biggest challenge is to stop for a moment each day, remember I am the only one making choices on how to spend my time, and acknowledge the signs that things are going as they should.
My stride has become a lazy shuffle by the time I see them. Only a few minutes from my goal, every single step seems heavier than the previous, and I am trying to mute all the sweet little voices in my head saying, “Stop. You deserve it! You’ve done good enough.” I look up to see two Great Blue Herons standing into a thicket of grass, their blue bodies a stark contrast to the goldenrod prairie painted in autumn shades. Their heads rotate on their slender necks, following me as I run by. Almost instantaneously, my body seems lighter, my legs a bit stronger, and I know I can make it.
I am grateful for the Great Blue Heron sighting.