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Archived Journeys

In the Long Run

Throughout most of my life, I have struggled with leadership roles. Part of me relishes them and part of me withdraws. I have only recently been able to gain some awareness of the nature of this struggle and learn some of the ethics involved. Most of the time, the information comes in little pieces out of the blue but one day while running at the gym, I watched an entire scene spread out before my inner eye that brought a great deal of clarity to my search.

I felt fortunate to find myself alone on the running track in what is usually a busy YMCA. Also, there was no background music and while I ran, I was able to let my mind go blank with only the steady slapping of my feet on the board track to accompany my inner wandering. I must have been at least a mile into my run when my breathing became a steady pattern of one long in-breath to two explosive pants out. This pattern soon became a chant, a brisk waltz rhythm that developed into a sound reminiscent of an Indian campfire from a John Wayne movie. Felt really good so I didn't try to refrain. I was alone and why not?

It didn't take a lot of this to begin to lapse into a trance state, and I was startled to realize I was seeing a scene quite different from the running track develop before me. I felt and saw myself running along a grassy ridge on a large plain. Looking up, I saw an eagle soaring overhead and going in the same general direction that I followed. I had the impression that I had been running for some time and a memory of sighting the eagle in meditation and being called home urgently was strong in my mind.

Back at the ranch, er gym, I was pretty comfortable with this experience and in no hurry to push it along so I kept on running in both scenarios. I realized that running had not been so easy in many years (ain't no spring chicken no more!) and enjoyed the flow of it tremendously. I could even see the terrain I was moving through in the vision. "Cool!" I thought, and kept a-goin'.

I can't even guess how long this went on before the memory experience moved on. As I ran, I felt the memory develop of imploring the people of my village to make peace with their oppressors. Death was the inevitable alternative. Our way of life was over never to return and we must accept change. I remembered arguing passionately and being satisfied by how many heard and understood. As I ran, the awareness of impending horror grew strong in me. The eagle had told me there was trouble brewing. As I approached the village, I saw the invading army approaching as well. Running at breakneck pace to reach the battlefront first, I screamed as loudly as I could not to fight.

"We can make our stand for peace this day." It was just a bit too confusing a scene for thinking, and I really didn't expect to. As to how it relates to my present life, I could see the pieces fall into place almost literally. I had struggled all my life with a sense of responsibility for others and a fear about leading others to be hurt. Each pain that someone might feel in my presence became my fault. I would often hesitate to even venture an opinion lest it be wrong and to the detriment of another person. When a job involving other people became necessary, I would assume all responsibility and not ask for help, rather than risk hurting someone somehow through my own decisive actions. I came to take the criticism of others very seriously as my due. Essentially I was bearing responsibility for the suffering of others each time I chose suffering for myself.

Well, wasn't this liberating? As I watched those specters and came to understand that some things supersede death and suffering and uplift us as humans to stand up for principles, I felt myself release responsibility. I recognized that such decisions are made by us as individuals. We follow the crowd - or not - based on our own codes. Knowing that someone else understood and grew in life as a result of my taking a stand made it seem worthwhile. I realized that this would be true throughout my life as long as I act on what I truly believe.

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