Last year I used to run a loop that took me past my house. I'd do that loop a few times, comfortable in the fact that the loop took me by my house so I could check on the kids, make sure it wasn't burning down, etc. But I have to admit that knowing I was going past my house also made me feel comforted in the fact that if it was too hot outside, I could stop in for water. If I was tired I could cut my run short. You get the point.
But this year when the weather warmed up and I went back to street running again, I reached the point where I could turn right and do my regular loop, or I could turn left and run the opposite way-- this new route taking me away from my house, meaning it would be harder to get back. I ran and ran and ran. And then I realized dang. I have to get back. This new route was not easy. There was no shortcut. There was no point where I could stop in. I had to go the distance and do the hard work it took to get myself back.
Every day now when I get to that point on my run I look at that turn and I make a choice: hard or easy? Provide myself with an out or turn away from it? This has been a good analogy for life that I often think of as I run away from my house, increasing the distance from it and making my run longer and harder in the process. I am doing it to myself and yet, there is payoff in pushing myself.
Someone reading this has a decision to make that has nothing to do with running. Their decision is about taking the harder path, the one that makes things much less easy. But it's the path that will also make them better. They're standing at the point where they can just keep doing what they've been doing and no one will be the wiser. Or they can turn, do something that will take a lot more effort and intentionally make life harder for themselves.
I have to tell you that every day when I come back from my long run, I'm way prouder of myself than I was with my easy loop I used to make. There are other choices (that have nothing to do with running) I've made that was also the harder, longer way. And I'm also proud of myself for making those choices-- and for the character that resulted from that. Character I couldn't have gained any other way. Whether it was choosing to stick it out with my marriage when I wanted to quit. Or digging in and paying off the debt we'd accumulated when bankruptcy sounded much faster. Or making the odd choice to homeschool my kids during the years we did that. Or finally writing that novel I'd longed to write when no one knew or cared if I did (except, of course, me). There came that point where I had to turn away from the easy way, and choose the harder one.
If you're at that point, go for it. Make that hard left, pick up your speed, crank up your music, and run with everything that's in you. I think you'll be glad you did.