The other day I was asked by one of my professors to recall my favorite sports moment of all time, and instantly I was brought back to a time that taught me the greatest lesson I could have ever been taught. Although it may come off on the surface as not much more than a cliche, I know that the happiest people know exactly how to live life. Stop trying to figure things out or make a perfect life for yourself. Not all of us get that turning-point moment in life that changes our path’s course, so it is imperative we stop searching for answers and seeking out a medium of happiness. Instead of trying to micromanage life, take time to leave your mind at home some days, and just let your heart take the wheel. Sometimes you just have to live.
At 16 I lost the first person I ever loved to an overdose. He was my boyfriend of two years, and I felt like the world was crumbling beneath my feet. I was never like him in the sense of a drug user, but at that time I guess you could say I didn’t even know he was still using.
His death took me by complete and utter surprise. Junior year of high school was already hard enough. Trying to balance track, ACT prep, school and applying for colleges was taking its toll on me. It was safe to say I was losing my sense of self.
I felt like the only personal time I had to connect with Scott was when I ran, so I kept doing the only thing that came naturally.
So there I was, on the starting line of my regional race. This was the big race before the state meet and would also be the race to position me with a state rank. My heart was pumping fast, but I felt oddly relaxed. I felt that this moment was meant to be mine.
“Starters, take your marks,” the announcer said.
I took a deep breath. “Get set.” OK, Reighan, you got this. “Go!”
My race transpired into an out of body experience.
“Scott, be with me” was the mantra I repeated over and over again.
I took control of the race and made every move cautiously, perfectly. Every motion and every breath were in harmony with one another all the way around the track. Then I reached the final stretch. I was in the lead, but slowing down. I pumped my arms and legs, and I felt as if everything was going to shut down. Everything.
“Scott, be with me,” I repeated to myself. I looked at the clock — 2:08, 2:09, 2:10 — the seconds ticked away. I looked straight ahead, gasping for air, somehow moving my legs while they were completely numb. I staggered, slid and fought my way across the finish line, collapsing to the ground.
At that moment I was filled with an unexplainable amount of emotion because I realized that my race wasn’t only dedicated to Scott, but it was dedicated to me.
It is not every day that a 16-year-old figures it all out. It was not about learning how to race, but instead learning how to live.
A perfect race. There’s just no such thing. A perfect life? Ha.
I’ve raced hundreds of times before that moment, but this race was by far my best performance. It didn’t matter how much training I did or how much strategy I applied. Statistics I knew about my opponents beforehand played no role in a victory. All that truly mattered was what was going on in my head that day and what I felt in my heart.
If you have your mind right and your heart leading your life’s path, you’ll be unstoppable. With that said, it’s easier said than done to get your mind and heart just right. It’s easy to spew cliches and make no life changes.
The world we live in is a beautiful place, but it is also good at deceiving us and making us think we want something we don’t. Life can blind our senses to what’s important. We follow the money, try to learn the tricks of the trade and let go of things that may hold personal value to us in order to please the ones who think they know what’s best.
But that moment was different. It was a game-changing day. That day I did me. I got mine. I followed my heart and turned off my mind.
I will never forget that moment. I broke the school record by four seconds, was ranked third in the state of Michigan in the 800 meters and was recognized for great athletic achievement by my high school, but that’s not why I was happy. I found myself that day. I learned to live and to just let go and be. My race that day became a metaphor for my life and how I want to live. There’s no such thing as a perfect life, but there can be perfect moments. Just let go.
Reighan Fisher studies journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.