Misery. The bright sun turned scorching and cruel inside those cinder block walls. The owner of this cramped apartment lay shirtless on the tarted blankets of his twin bed, as one by one 10 strangers packed the room so tight that not one more could enter. His story matched the desperate environment that surrounded him, from the bamboo stalks cut to funnel into rain barrel, to hi sister hiding under the table pressed flat against the far wall. He told his story through the words of a translator, explaining his sisters shyness was due to the recent death of their mother to his bedridden state from abdominal pain. We our filed out as my mom and translator remained for a diagnosis. The thought that nearly had to be on everyone's mind is, How does he bear it? The easy conclusion is he has no other choice.
This idea defined my opinion on perseverance long before my time in Guatemala. I would look forward and decide if the pain would be worth the reward. Then proceed to persevere or falter based on that original decision. The orphaned teenager must have looked forward to something in life even if it was just the act of living, that was why he was willing to endure so much suffering. This was truly defined by my brief stint on the cross country team. When one of the new runners in the group would falter, panting the classic words “I can’t go any farther,” the couch would respond with the mixture of wisdom and cruelty movies often bestow upon drill sergeants and football coaches. “Really you can’t? If your best friend just over there, wouldn't you go and help them?”. They would mumble a reluctant yes already seeing the un, “ You wanted to stop, that’s fine and I understand. But remember you wanted to.” The runner had decided that the rewards of running were not worth the costs of continuing.
The event that ended my running career is what would have brought about a change in how I viewed perseverance. The awkwardness of it was what got to me. As I hobbled forward lifting one stiff leg sideways and forcing it forward, then switching quickly to my good leg. All I had done was jump into the air, but I could not put weight on it. The second pressure was applied it would painfully buckle. I pushed onward refusing to fail where my siblings would succeed. The five miles around the lake passed with slowly. Every step asking why I decided to go, and every step deciding not to quit. A few days later I learned my leg had a small fracture just below the knee. Reflecting on this event currently I came to the lack perspective. I knew from the teenager in Guatemala that so much could be endured, I just assumed as the cross country coach illustrated, you stop when you can not go any farther. Had I known my leg was “broken” I would have quit. I realized that so often I gave reasons why I could not continue instead of trying to push past them.