I was not very fast when I was younger, particularly in shorter distances. Let's be honest, I was slow. Not just, turtle slow, or even rhinoceros slow, I was glacier slow. The only highlight of my early running career I can think of was beating my friend Arie during tryouts for some team in the gym. Even then, I probably only won because he went slowly at first, not realizing how desperate I was to win. For many years I didn’t run unless I had to, rushing to catch a bus or avoid getting hit by a car. Then I discovered marathons. Although I lacked speed, I had the ability to run through pain and push hard for long distances.
Each year, I have students in my classes with whom I connect and others with whom I don’t. I can usually tell fairly quickly who will fall into each category. There was one boy this year that was different. He didn’t seem interested in the subject I was teaching, or at the very least, in the way I was teaching it. It wasn’t that he didn’t try. It was just that, at a certain point, his eyes got that glazed look and I knew I had lost him. I felt badly, for him and for me. For him, that he was stuck with me as a teacher and for me, in the way I always do, when I am unable to reach a student. Then I noticed something. Each time that I took a break from the subject I was teaching and got into a discussion involving philosophy and life, this same student came to life. He was involved in a way that I wished all my students would be. A gentle smile would appear on his face, an indication that something I said had reached him, even touched him.
In running, learning and life, it is rare that one size fits all. Given the chance, we all discover the race we wish to run.