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I am quite pleased with 2nd place, especially when everyone expects me third.”-Brad

Field of combat!

Joyful sounds of  play and laughter filled that grassy field outside of town. It was a sunny Tuesday afternoon in late June, the event, the end-of-year sports day and school picnic.  Held in a  large empty field where the local newsprint mill pastured their herd of work horses before the advent of motorized vehicles, the horse farm was abuzz with energetic school kids hyped-up on junk food and soda pop.

I mostly remember that day for the grade four boys foot race. I stood at the starting line with my male classmates and when the word go was shouted I ran as fast as I could. When I crossed the finish line my classmate, Terry, was jumping in the air in celebration of his first-place finish. He was jumping alone, none of the other guys were congratulating him. That was because no one else had yet finished the race. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the remainder of my classmates still behind me and charging fast for the finish line.

I hadn’t won the grade four boy’s foot race but I did come in second place and even though it was disappointing, I knew I would have only been kidding myself to think I could ever outrun the fastest grade four in our class, Terry. He was small and light and fleet of foot when running; he was like the wind. Myself, on the other hand was larger and rounder and seldom in a hurry to get anywhere quickly. Yes, I could run fast when needed: pursued by English Sheepdogs, threatened by cannibalistic hermits, evading bullies several years my senior or waking black bears in mid-hibernation. Yes, I could be fast when survival depended upon it, but without Death licking the backs of my sneakers’ heels I could never be as fast as Terry.

I was happy with my second place finish, but when considered in the bigger scheme of things, what does it truly matter? Besides me, who really remembers my stunning, 2nd place finish nearly four decades ago?

Who really remembers days such as today, January 2nd, the runner up to that big day of New Year’s? Who recalls the romance of February 15th? How green was March 18th? How important was your last Easter Saturday? What Canadian recalls watching the night sky on July 2nd; or American on July 5th? Who remembers the cottage on the Tuesday after Labour day? The meal after thanksgiving? The sugar rush the night of November 1st? Who recalls remembering remembering on November 12th? Is the turkey just as mouth-watering on December 27th? Second place finishes are like that, never really as exciting as the top spots. (Sure, I did win a pencil for my second place victory, but really, like a writing utensil would  make a difference in my life?)

No one remembers my second place finish in grade four, and with the possible exception of Terry himself, I doubt anyone really remembers his first place finish either. All our special days tend to blur together the older we get. What Christmas did I get that wide polka-dot tie? What Halloween were we shouted at by some old man without a calendar who couldn’t answer his door? What Easter did my friend’s parent learn never to hide chocolate bunnies in the oven again?

Eventually, all our 1st place days are going to fade and blur and mix with all our 2nd place days as well as  our 3rd, 4th and every  other day of our past. So truly, it leaves us with no excuse whatsoever not to make each and every day special is some way. There is no need to wait for the next holiday to do something special. Get out there now and celebrate, make this the best January 2nd ever.

You may win a pencil!

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4 thoughts on “Thought 100: Running for Second

  1. Another great message. Isn’t it odd how we “save up” for the big days. I notice it at holiday time when so many people have issues with their families because everyone insists they must be visited on the day of the holiday, not the day before or the day after. It’s nuts! Every day is a gift to be shared, and who cares what the words on the calendar say?

    • A lot of people spend so much time, money and effort, stressing out to make the big days special and when it is over and done with its a big let down because they were to caught up in making it special they don’t get to relax and enjoy the specialness. So what if you visit that family member the day after Christmas… 30 years from now you can always say you did visit Christmas day and most likely no one will remember to refute your claim.

  2. Excellent post. I’m a huge “rememberer” and documenter of moments, but I too have mellowed over the years. Where once I felt compelled (insanely driven?) to write down, photograph, journal, and video tape those big events, now I prefer very often to just… experience them. I don’t regret my manic camera/writing years, but I’m enjoying my… enjoying years!

    What a good reminder this post is. Thanks for putting it up for us. (I’ll be back!)

    • I think of all the things I videotaped over the years…and now I no longer posess the proper electronic machinery to view it. Many of the those experinces I no longer remember in detail. Mostly, all I remember is that I videotaped them.

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