Yesterday my friend became the 61st person to sign up to run the 2015 Iditarod. The Iditarod, if you’re not familiar with it, is a dogsled race that travels more than 1,000 miles through the Alaskan wilderness–just you, some dogs, and a whole lotta distance between yourself and the finish line–and it’s run each year in March. AKA, the dead of winter. In Alaska. Temperatures of 50-60 degrees below zero are not uncommon, and last year’s champion set a new record by finishing it in slightly more than eight days. The last musher to cross the finish line took just shy of two weeks to finish. Y’know, just a nice li’l snowy vacation-length jaunt with some doggehs and the frostbite-within-30-seconds cold. NBD.
Now, here’s the fun thing about Steve (did I mention his name is Steve? His name is Steve, by the way): this “I think I’ll go run the Iditarod” plan isn’t the only spectacularly remarkable thing on his “been there, done that” list. Heck, depending on how you look at things, it may or may not crack the Top 5. His Iditarod musher bio blurb is…well, follow the nice link there at the beginning of the sentence and you’ll see what I mean. I recommend you sit down first, and maybe grab a nice bracing beverage.
/wonders if anyone else would find it funny if she started referring to him as an “OveraSTEVEr”
…So that’s Steve. Hold onto him for a second–we’ll be back around for him shortly. In the meantime, please enjoy this video of Drew Drechsel, whom I do not personally know but who seems like a Very Nice Fellow.
There we see the lad competing (in a qualifying round) on a program called American Ninja Warrior, which is based on the Japanese Sasuke, which is essentially a great big ol’ super-insane obstacle course. It consists of 4 stages, each more difficult than the last, and as of this morning, Sasuke has been run 30 times with a whopping 3, yes three, people completing it (one fellow has finished it twice, which is just crazycakes). 100 people try each time, gang, so that’s a pretty, um, noteworthy failure rate. And the American version is on its 6th running, with zero completions so far (though last year one guy almost made it through stage 3. Alllllmost). People don’t run this thing because they think they’re going to win it–they run it because they want to try.
And Drew, as it turns out, is actually the fellow who provided the quote that kicked off this whole post in the first dang place: a few weeks ago, over on his Facebook, he posted the question, “What awesome thing should I attempt today?“.
And y’know what? I love that.
Here’s the thing, y’all. Every year a sizable number of Iditarod mushers “scratch”: they withdraw from the race partway through for one reason or another (dogs get sick, mushers get injured, sleds break down, the weather tries to destroy them–last year’s frontrunner had to scratch when a storm kicked up and tried to blow his dogs to Canada). Ninja Warrior competitors have a staggeringly low completion rate. But every single one of them, from the folks who come in first to the folks who come in dead last to the folks who don’t make it past the first checkpoint on the race trail or the first obstacle on the course, every single one of them tried to do something amazing.
To borrow a line from John Green,
(John there, if you’re not familiar with his work, is a novelist who has written a handful of books, won awards for dang near every one of them, and has most recently become insanely famous for his YA novel, The Fault in Our Stars, which became a bestseller and got made into a super-successful movie and now he’s a kaspillionaire. And he runs a grassroots movement that mobilizes his fans and puts their collective shoulders behind various philanthropic projects. I imagine his calendar is terribly complicated.)
Look, y’all, we can’t all win the Iditarod. Heck, I can’t currently win a race with the dogs to catch things that fall off the counter while I’m making dinner. But Steve is going to try, and who knows, he might go down as that Rookie Who Caught Everyone Off-Guard. We’re not all going to win Ninja Warrior, but Drew straps on his shoes every season and takes a whack at it and maybe this will be the year he joins the very, very short list of finishers. My friend, Funky Peacenik, is not going to singlehandedly feed everyone who’s hungry, but she’s making a heckuva good attempt. My friend with the Red Purse is not personally going to be able to connect every person with health care, housing, and food assistance, but she’s getting about 300 folks per week, which ain’t shabby.
What you are driven to do–what you are driven to try–is probably not going to be the same as what I want to take a shot at…and that’s ok, because what matters is that you find something remarkable that sings to your soul, and you go for it. You don’t have to succeed on your first attempt; heck, you don’t even have to come very close. We’re not all going to end up with biographies that make other people want to reassess all their life choices. We’re not all going to do insane flippy-runny-jumpy-soary things. We’re not all going to save the world.
But it’s up to you to decide that today is the day you’re going to take the first steps toward a life that you’re proud of. If you’ve already taken the first steps, then it’s up to you to keep going. If you haven’t picked a dream yet, it’s up to you start brainstorming.
So choose the way in which you’re going to be remarkable, and go for it.
We’ll be here, ready to cheer you on.