Seventeen and one-half miles. That's the mark. That's when the hill starts. That's when I go from a comfortable ride to a heart-pumping, sweat-drenching climb. It only lasts about a half of a mile but that one-half of a mile seems to stay in the forefront of my mind until I begin my coast down the other side. Yesterday I began to notice this truth and was amazed. I had pedaled up this hill many, many times. It's hard but not too hard. It hurts but not that bad. But for some reason, I just kept looking at my watch and counting down the miles until the hill was in front of me. I struggled to enjoy the first seventeen miles. I struggled to keep my eyes and mind on the beautiful surroundings. Instead I fought a mental battle that had buried itself from a previous time when that hill was much more difficult.
You see, there was a time when I first began riding, when all the riding veterans warned me about the hill. They were not trying to scare me or discourage me but trying to simply get me ready for something I had not done before. But instead of embracing the challenge and believing their reassurance, I dreaded the failure I was convinced was coming my way. After all, I was a rookie and I was old and I was weak and I was suffering from a cold and I had indigestion and a host of other maladies. I thought there were too many reasons for me to not make it up the hill but I was wrong and my friends were right. The second time came around to make that same ride and even though I conjured up those same excuses, my friends were right again, and again, and again. Even though they had been right time after time, the thoughts of failure began to bury themselves deep within my psyche so no matter how many times I set out for this particular ride, I dreaded the hill that I had done time and time again. That's how I knew it was seventeen and one half miles away. I measured it and marked it and now it had become the thing which kept my mind from the precious and prolonged present and onto a future moment that no longer held any power over my life.
Some of you, right now, are losing the precious present because you are focusing on a dreaded moment in the future. You are making every excuse why this time you will not make it and why this time that hill will crush you under its demands. If you think about it however, every hill up to now has been climbed. You may have garnered scars but you have gained strength. And the hill that is before you now, you will also conquer. So take your mind off of a future moment you have already defeated and put it on a today that may hold a blessing you never knew was coming.