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  • Writer's pictureEric Knabel

Thoughts From Six Feet Away: Created to Evolve!

Someone help me understand something…


I’ve been seeing all these stories about property owners who find people squatting (ie. living illegally) on their property, and they are getting in all varieties of legal trouble when they try to evict them. What in the Wide World of Sports is going on there?


On the one hand, I feel sympathy for these property owners who seem to have fewer rights to a property they own, as opposed to those who are illegally occupying it. At the same time, if you own a property, how in the heck do you not know someone is living there? I believe squatters have rights after a certain number of days. Shouldn’t you be checking in on your property? Sorry for the rant, but I’m trying really hard to make sense of this. It’s also weird to feel equal parts pity and “no pity.” But enough of that…


 

As many of the people who follow me on social media know, I’ve been on a running kick lately. It all started in November of 2022, when I did the Wine and Dine Half Marathon at Disney. For the record, if you’re a runner, you should plan to do a Disney event once in your life; no one does race day better. I wanted to do one more half marathon before hanging up the running shoes, but the afternoon after the race, my cousin’s wife texted me. An avid runner, she said she always wanted to do a runDisney event with my family. Knowing I can never refuse a family request, I agreed. We settled on the Princess Half Marathon in February of 2024. It didn’t start well, since I was dealing with low back pain and sciatica for much of the summer. Thanks to the help of a local physical therapist, I was able to start training in November – far from the ideal six months I had wanted to set aside to prepare, but I was up for the challenge.


February came, and I was able to do the 10K and half marathon on consecutive days. If you think that’s crazy, I’ll raise the stakes and tell you I went to the Disney parks both days. That Sunday, I took over 53,000 steps. Lunacy. In the past, I’d take about a six-month hiatus from running after an event like that, but I was once told to set the next goal before achieving the current one. So, I signed up for the Louisville Triple Crown of Running, a three-race series in the month of March, set to begin the week after the half marathon. Unfortunately, my left knee reminded me over the course of the month that it is not in ideal condition, and I wondered if I’d be able to complete it. I am happy to report that I completed the series as of yesterday. So, since February 24th, I’ve run a 5K, two 10Ks, a 15K, and a half marathon. A friend of mine messaged me the other day and said, “You must really love running.” But I have a confession to make:


I hate running. Always have.


When I was in PE class my freshman year of high school, Kevin Marks and I were the only kids in the class that looked like they had ever run in their life, and the teacher was having a hard time finding ways to motivate us. So he made Kevin and I a deal: if we could do the mile run in under 7 minutes, we wouldn’t have to run for the rest of the semester. That day, I learned the power of ignoring physical or mental anguish for the sake of getting something done, a skill that would serve me well over the next 35 years. I finished that run in 6:18 to Kevin’s 6:04, and we sat in the grass and watched the others run for the rest of the semester. I think my body has hated me for it since, and it objects every time I go to run.


I don’t run because I love to run; I run because I hate to run. I spent the first 18 years of my life afraid – afraid to stick out, afraid to take risks. I secretly loathed who I was, yet not having the courage to become something I was not. There came a point that I was tired of being afraid, and I chose to do something about it. I began to shed my mantle of fear, and my cloak bore a new name.


Evolution.


My ambitions started out like everyone else’s, I suppose; make a lot of money, be a big shot, have a lot of stuff. Somewhere along the way, I figured out that this pursuit was a fruitless one, because there was always someone that had more. This was an easy trap to fall into in the medical field, where everyone lives in big houses, drives luxury cars, and goes on exotic vacations. I stopped wanting to have more and developed an intense desire to BE more. If I hate something about myself, why don’t I fix it? I never wanted to be the person that decided one day that they were the way they were, and there was no need to try anything new or be better, even if the current version was less than desirable.


And that’s when I learned the hidden lesson: this philosophy is where true living starts.

In meditation and mindfulness, they call this “approaching with the beginner’s mind.” I started trying new things, started meditating. Set goals to do things, then decided to start doing them. Why wait until we’re dying to start on the ol’ bucket list? It was invigorating, and my enthusiasm for my new approach spilled out of me when talking with others. At one point, I was speaking to a high school classmate, who asked me, “Why are you doing this?” When I asked what, they said, “Accomplishing things. You’ve achieved more than anyone in our class, why are you still trying for things?” It was then that I learned that not everyone had a growth mindset. Some have resented me for my way of living, because if someone like me can be doing these things, it takes away their excuses and exposes them. That was never my intent. My intent is simply to do the thing that they tell you to do at running events, and that is “run your race.”


So that’s why I run. I run to evolve. I run to prove I’m more than this guy who “doesn’t do this.” My inner voice told me I wasn’t a runner, so now I run. When I was sick with COVID, I heard a commercial that said “sitting is the new smoking.” I thought it was ludicrous at the time, but now I understand it. Sedentary activity leads to unhealthy consequences. In other words, get off your butt and move.


Maybe that’s why I write these blog posts, to try and convince myself I’m a writer. I’ve become the patron saint of “fake it until you make it.” And maybe things are worth doing badly until you do it well. Take a risk! What are the words that you say? If you’re not a “blank,” I suggest you try “blanking.” Be excellent to each other, and…



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