23 March 2011

My "Missing Tile" Moment

Recently, I ran a 10k race.  I primarily ran for the fun of it; for me, running is an enjoyable activity and being in a race is a good way for me to get some variety and friendly competition into the mix.  For this most recent run, I had not planned on any specific goal, mostly because I had signed up for it about a week before the race date - not a great deal of time to train specifically for that race.

But running - or rather, racing - without a goal is somewhat counterintuitive, so I set the modest goal of running about the same time as my previous 10k.  But as the race progressed, I noticed that my pace was a bit quicker than my last 10k, so I switched goals mid-race.  I decided I would better my previous time.  As I was past the halfway point at that time, it was a fairly modest goal.  Further on, as I was going into the last mile or so, a race worker made a comment about a group of us "still being able to make" a certain time.  I didn't quite set that time as my goal, but still pushed hard in an attempt to make it.  As I crossed the finish line, I knew that I had missed that last goal, or almost goal, but not by much.  I was very happy with my race.  I didn't know my exact time because I had inadvertently stopped my watch one point in the race, so I had to wait until scores posted - a forty-five minute wait.

As I waited, I chatted with some other runners about the course, the hills, our times.  And then my missing tile moment came.

One of my favorite thinkers, Dennis Prager, describes the missing tile syndrome in this way:  If you stand in a room and there is only one ceiling tile missing, you will focus on that spot.  If a ceiling isn't missing any tiles...no one notices.  It's "perfect".  We, being human, do the same things with ourselves and others.  If there is one thing we do not like about ourselves (our missing tile), then it seems to us that everyone else has that "tile".  Mr. Prager's example is a bald man who, when out in public, sees that everyone around him has hair.  And unlike a ceiling, we can never be perfect; we will always have missing tiles.

Some of these tiles are momentary; and my missing tile moment didn't last long, but that may only be because I recognized it for what it was (thankfully).  When my time came up, I found out that I was seconds short from placing in my age group.  And for about a minute, all I thought about was my missing tile, which consisted of seconds I could have made up at various points on the run.  But thankfully, this feeling didn't last long.  Shortly, I remembered the two goals that I did make, and the third that I almost made.  And lastly, I realized that if I were running to place, I'd be racing others and not myself or the course, which for me is less enjoyable.  So I gladly let that missing tile stay missing (as if I could do anything else) and soon enough, I didn't notice it.  I only pray that all of my future missing tile moments will be as brief, as I know I'll have many more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Missing tile moments... Really enjoyed this post. C.Lister