This is one of my first clear, vivid memories. I’m in early grade school. It’s a hot day in late September. It’s Terry Fox Day. We are outside and to honor Terry and we’re running around the school. There’s no set number of laps we have to make, we just run until the time is up. Some kids walk. Some kids run. I’m not fast. I refuse to walk. I grind.
I can feel the heat welling up around my neck as the sweat tickles my back. Soon the tickle disappears, I know that’s because my shirt is now Saran-wrapped to my back with sweat. The sun feels like it’s scalding me, so hot, August hot. It feels like my shoes are sticking in bubble gum but really they’re melting into the asphalt.
I don’t have a set goal, a specific number of laps I need to make during our time in the oven. I don’t care if I’m first or last or somewhere in between. I want to work and running is the work which lay in front of me. So I work.
I’m not deaf, I hear the other kids, wondering out loud why I don’t just stop and walk. I don’t respond so they call me a machine, a robot, a number of things. I don’t care. I’m grinding them down. Grinding them out. They may have quit but I won’t. I can’t stop, this is what I was put here to do. To work. I smile.
I don’t have any special gifts or talents. I’m not lucky like that. My one “skill” if you can call it that is my ability to work. Not just to work, but to enjoy working hard, to savour the grind. I’ve shoveled debris in knee deep sludge for 8 hours through the night in a sawmill (every weekend for 5 years). I’ve descended The Hill with a bucket truck and chipper in the dark in a blizzard (and then worked 55 days straight of extreme manual labour to get the job done). I’ve fallen a 7′ diameter Douglasfir tree. I was married and incorporated my own company in the same month. I started a second company while running my first company full time with three boys under 4 years old to take care of. Bring it.
I guess what I’m saying is that you can do it. It might sound daunting to some, impossible to others. I’m not deaf, I hear you. Terry made it. So can you. So will I.
RIP Terry Fox. PS – I’m still running for you.