In the summer of 2016, I was asked by a volunteer from Achilles international Nashville if I would like to train for the New York City Marathon. Like most people, I had never run a full marathon before. After all, it's 26.2 miles. That is something I never imagined I would ever do. Up to that point, I had run a few half marathons with my sighted guide, Frank Downey. He, along with myself, John Lavey and Joe Shaw started the training regimen. With every step, I felt like walls came down. Joe and I started out being the blind guys. Frank and John were the sighted guides. Along the way, we ended up just being four guys going for a run. By the time we crossed the finish line in New York City, I learned a few things. 1: human beings are more important than the ultimate goal, 2: admitting I sometimes need assistance from others is not a sign of weakness but a sign of humility, and 3: life can be painful, but the pain is needed in order to grow.
I remember, as I was growing up, I would pray for my dreams to come true. I believed that if I was successful enough, that I would find acceptance and fulfillment. It’s like there was a metaphorical door. And if I were to get on the other side of it, my life would truly begin. Now, I’m finding out that no accomplishment makes me who I am. I follow me into every season. If I’m not happy where I am, I’m not going to be happy where I’m going. Right now, at this moment, is where life is. The air in my lungs, sun on my face, the song on the radio, the conversations with my wife and the food I’m tasting are examples of simple things I no longer want to miss.