Monday, March 29, 2010

On Being a Little Fish

I have a vivid memory of the Halloween parade when I was in kindergarten. Parade might be a loose term for it. Basically, we all donned our Halloween apparel and in our best follow the leader style took the stairs from the belly of the elementary school to the top. Once there we were walked in and out of the classrooms of the older fifth and sixth grade kids. I don't remember what my costume was. What I remember was the thought that I had better stay right on the tail of whichever child was in front of me or I might get lost and never be found again.



A few years later, I was one of the older girls commenting on how cute the kindergartners were. The school that had once seemed so overwhelmingly big was now quite a nice size. I was familiar with classrooms on every floor and quite comfortable.



The next year I was unceremoniously thrust into junior high – from big fish in a little pond to little fish in a big pond. Like most people, I think I liked being the big fish rather than the little fish. Maybe I still like it that way. It's safer somehow.



Last year at this time, I started doing Catch the Wave – a 10 week beginning running group. Actually, I started a couple weeks late. Add to that my naturally slow pace; I ended up in the bottom group. Given my speed, it was probably where I belonged. Still, it chaffed a bit to be in the slowest group.



I am use to doing well in my endeavors. I was a mostly A+ student and was horrified by a B. (Math was my downfall.) I have a natural ability to learn. If someone can explain the why and how of something, I can usually take even an abstract concept and run with it.



But I had never been a runner by nature. I knew that going into it. Still, I was disappointed. While I knew I wasn't likely to win, I wanted to do well.



While I am still not a stellar runner, I helping to lead the Catch the Wave (CTW) group. I am leading the slowest group. From my group members and even comments from the group above us, there is some frustration at being at the bottom. Coming in last really isn't much fun.



But maybe there is something to learn from being the little fish, the one at the back, the one that comes in last. Oh, don't get me wrong. I like to win. I like to do well at things, but what can you learn from being a little fish:


·         Sometimes the joy is in being part of the race rather than the destination.

·         Sometimes it is about the people you meet on the way rather than the few you would meet if you went straight to the top.

·         There is satisfaction in doing your best no matter the outcome.

·         Perhaps the goal is doing better or going farther than you did last time rather than beating the other person.



Growth, while painful and uncomfortable at times, is about being stretched. Big fishes in little ponds have nowhere to go. They have no need to stretch and grow. Little fishes in big ponds have everywhere to stretch and grow.  

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