I hate to disappoint you all, but just as much as I'm not going to be an armadillo, you're not going to be whatever you dream of being. You're not going to be a movie star, a pro-athlete, or a millionaire UNLESS, unless you already are one. Unless right now, you're living, breathing, and acting just like a movie-star-in-the-making you're not going to ever be one. Your life is right now.
Recently I've heard a lot of people talking about how we're going out into the "real world". I think that's a bunch of crap. There is no real world out there and high school is in no way fake. You've been living just as much in the past four years as you are ever going to. The only reason high school might seem like it's not real is that everyone spends it waiting for their lives to begin. A lot of people spend their entire lives waiting for their lives to begin.
Stop watching your life go by!
You have to grab onto life and squeeze it for all it's worth! The only time you have is now. Life is made up of what you do now and now and now and now and now. If you're not what you want to be now, change! If you're not content with who you are now, fix it! If you haven't met all your goals in life, go accomplish them!
Now I realise that some of you out there will be completely unaffected by what I just said. Either you can't focus because the seats are too uncomfortable or you've already fallen asleep because they're way too comfortable. And then there's some of you that would really like to get excited about life, you'd love to go find purpose and live now, but you have no idea what to do. I have to admit I don't know what I'm doing either.
There are times when I'm lost and confused. There are times when I have all this turmoil inside and I can't make up my mind over what to do or where to go. But I've got a solution. If you want true contentment, if you want a purpose, if you want something to live and die for, there's someone I'd like you to meet. He's the coolest guy in the universe. He's got a lot of different names but he generally goes by Jesus Christ. Come talk to me afterwards and I'll introduce you.
This is it! I'm just about done up here. Pretty soon we're going to graduate and we're all going to go our separate ways. You're going to go off to your life in the "real world" and you can continue to wait for your life to start or you can live each moment like it was your last squeezing everything you can out of life. Live now, it's all you've got and you're going to get. The only way I'm going to be an armadillo when I grow up, is if I start acting like one now. I want to be an armadillo when I grow up.
It looked like rain. All the weather reports had been warning of the imminent thunderstorm, and I was just starting cross country practice. Luckily, it would be a short run that day. All we had to run was a quick two miles to the nearby Dairy Queen and back. Everything was going smoothly until about the half mile mark, when I felt an all-too-familiar twinge in the bone just below my left knee.
As a cross country runner, I was no stranger to pain. Long distance running is not at all like the hundred yard dash of Michael Johnson. Where Johnson explodes into motion for a little under ten seconds, the long distance runner settles into a steady pace and must concentrate the entire race on holding that pace through the finish line. A sprinter feels a short burst of pain and he's finished. A distance runner, on the other hand, must deal with pain from the moment he springs off the starting line to the last agonizing push at the end. Throughout this ordeal the runner learns to recognize every soreness and intimately knows each knotted muscle. The pain becomes constant and all-encompassing. Every true runner embraces the pain; it becomes a part of him. Because of this phenomenon a runner is often regarded as a strange fanatic with masochistic tendencies.
So I wondered, "Why do I put myself through this?" The year before I had suffered a stress fracture in the exact same place that was now hurting. Because I am slightly bow-legged, I would be dealing with stress fractures for the rest of my running career. Now, when the realization hit me full force, I fell into a demoralizing spiral down toward despair.
Just then, it started to rain-not a slow drizzling rain, but a hard downpour. Within seconds, my entire body was soaked. Crackling thunder shook the ground beneath me, and I remembered why I ran. It was because of days like this. I run because of all the obstacles in my way and the bliss I experience when I overcome them. I run for the very fact that it is so difficult. When my heart pumps out of my chest and all my muscles scream for me to stop, but I still press on, such a strong sense of complete freedom fills me that the elation lasts for days. I run for the absolute contentment that comes when I finish a race and I know that I have given all I have.
I still run and I still get stress fractures. My condition has not been remedied and it probably never will. Pain is a fact of life. There will be days of unbearable pain and there will be days filled with hardship, but it is only through pain that I test my limits. It is only through hardships that men prove their worth. For in the place beyond limits where only the worthy can go is real joy and true peace that nothing can take away. It looks like rain, but I will run through rain.
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