There once was a girl who was full of excitement and curiosity. She called herself a 'Starter'. Because she was not a Finisher. She wanted to learn everything and do everything and know everything. She worked hard, and in whatever she did, she was pretty okay. Or kind of good. And sometimes - great. She was stubborn and insisted on learning everything by trying it. So she began. A lot. And she learned to be content to be a beginner, and a rare finisher.
It's not that there was a dearth of half painted pictures and abandoned odd jobs around her house. She would finish one project. Maybe two or three. And then grow distracted and decide it was time to learn more. Many times her passion led her down one path, but the path turned out to be shorter than she'd expected. And her road ended because she was bored, or weary, or in too much pain. No matter what though, she tried never to end on a bad note. For after all, she was simply being what she was made to be - a Beginner. Not a quitter.
And if it were worth it. If what she began was special enough, the Beginner sought out a Collaborator or a Finisher. Someone who could take what she began and keep it from dying. And so, our protagonist spent her life making something from nothing again and again, and because of her care - the special things outlived her influence. And it was her legacy. Famous for nothing, but for being the Beginner.
I wrote this little story to console myself upon my retirement as director of Mind The Ducks. Because, though I believe the words above, there is a small voice inside that is reminding me that commitment is honorable, and because I lack it, I am dishonorable. But I know it can't be true. The reality is that in 2009, when I began MTD, I thought I'd be lucky to make five years out of it, because I knew how my passions waxed and waned. And also because of the toll that race planning took on my mind, my body, my relationships. When I began, I already saw the end. I never did envision the new beginning it was given.
I have thought often about my problem with perseverance. In fact, I readily admit that there are only a handful of things I have made a long term commitment too and succeeded in keeping - and most of those things are relationships. Marriage, faith, motherhood and friendship. None of my projects have held me captive for too long. I quit Mind The Ducks in part due to the physical strain, in part due to the anxiety and emotional tax, and in part because the things that I want to spend my time doing and thinking about no longer include race directing. Ultrarunning is a worthy pursuit. So is race directing. It is a very selfless thing to do, I suppose. But it is not the selfless thing I want to be doing anymore. I have other ideas in mind. As usual, the winds...they've shifted.
But, to start something new again means that I am yet again, the Beginner. Will this then be the endeavor I see through to the end of my life? Realistically - no. But if I can help one person? Two? Ten? Or thousands - does it matter? Haven't I still left the earth better than I found it?
I pen this because there are a lot of people like me - curious about everything, unable to commit to much of anything - who feel like if they cannot sign on the line marked "forever", they should just stay in bed and rot. But it is a waste of your life, isn't it? Isn't it better to begin than to never start?
I think back on what I have learned from Mind The Ducks, what I have gained, and find that it has given me much more than it took from me. And I call to mind as well all the triumph, the friendships, the life changing and transcendent moments that our racers had, and think how can one say it is not worth it to have started something this wonderful, simply because I couldn't complete it? Maybe they would have had their breakthrough, big win, or broken spirit at another race. But they didn't. They had it at MINE. I did that. Me. I dreamed it. I worked for it. I made it happen. And because I love it, and because I realize that IT is worthy, I found someone to take up the cause and keep it alive. Someone who was just as capable, if not more so, than myself. I would not have handed it to anyone who couldn't do my baby justice. It is likely that I would have just continued it myself as the quality faded along with my waning enthusiasm. I am grateful to and excited for the new race director. There s a great deal of work, yes - but also a great deal of joy to be had in the job. And as for me - it is time to use my gift of beginning somewhere else. I have nothing but pride in what I began, and in myself for having the courage to realize the road was at it's end, and take another path.
Whether you are simply a starter, or you are the type who can commit for life, I encourage you to follow your passions (practically, okay? - don't blow through all your savings on a motorcycle because you have some latent fantasy about being a motocross racer) where they lead you, and spread positive influence -wherever and however you were created to.