As I sat down to write tonight’s blog, I had a split-second of indecision…it’s already so late and I’m not convinced I have anything to write about…but then I knew that I had to.
There really is something to be said for sticking to a task, and like missing a day or two of exercise, it only makes the next one harder.
So let’s see what comes through the keyboard with a little bit of pressure!
It’s not the worst thing in the world either. I’m not sure if it’s just teachers, but so many times I think we forget the saying, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” Especially now in the time of COVID, when we are working in previously unknown conditions, prepping courses in previously untried ways, there are some things that we just have to let go.
I read an article earlier tonight called, “What My Sled Dogs Taught Me About Planning for the Unknown.” TBH, I was mostly drawn to the picture of the huskies first, the title second.
If you read this blog, you’ll know that we had to put down our 14 year old husky Luka this spring. And from the stories I’ve told, I hope that you have gleaned that huskies can be…ummm…difficult. They are fiercely independent, and as I often said about Luka, the GPS in his head never functioned.
He would run and run and run.
If you have a few minutes, read the whole article! But because I know that time is of the essence and if you’re actually here reading this, that might be as far as you get. So these are some of the parts that stood out most for me:
“Here’s the thing about sled dogs: They never know how far they’re going to run…but each time my dogs hit the trail, they run hard - they give it everything they’ve got. That’s fine if we’re going 10 miles, or 30, distances they can cover easily in a few hours….But what if we’re going a hundred miles, or a thousand? Asking sled dogs to pace themselves, to slow it down, is like asking a retriever to only fetch one ball out of three: It goes against their very instinct.”
Hmmm. I know people like this.
“Having a plan made me feel confident and safe. And then I got into long-distance dog sledding and I discovered that the only thing worse than not having a plan was the stress of having one and constantly breaking it. Working with dogs in the wilderness means negotiating countless shifting variables: snow and wind, wild animals, open water, broken equipment, each dog’s needs and changing mood.”
Countless shifting variables. 2020 in a nutshell.
“I learned that plans, when I made them, were nothing but a sketch; the only thing I needed to count on was that the dogs and I would make decisions along the way. So how do you throw yourself into the unknown - and better yet, feel OK about it? How do you settle into an endurance challenge with no idea when it will end?”
Ah, there’s the rub.
And the author gives some great advice: rest. In particular, front-loading rest.
(The irony of writing this at 11pm and not going to bed is not lost on me haha.)
“It’s far easier to prevent fatigue than to recover from it later. But resting early, anticipating your dogs’ needs, does something even more than that: It builds trust. A sled dog learns that by the time she’s hungry, her musher has already prepared a meal; by the time she’s tired, she has a warm bed…And it’s this security, this trust, that lets her pour herself into the journey, give the trail everything she has without worrying about what comes next.”
I watched a group of students excitedly peering in their microscopes the other day, waving me over to show their discoveries. Masks on. Engaged. Pouring themselves into their learning journey. Trusting us.
“Because if you don’t know how far you’re going, you need to act like you’re going forever.”
I read a pandemic dystopian novel this weekend. I know that we hope for a vaccine and think of a return to normality. In the book, there was no end game. Normal never returned. It’s a bit of a depressing read, I’ll be honest! But there were ways where life…living…continued. In fact, a recurring line was “survival isn’t sufficient.”
“Planning for forever is essentially impossible, which can actually be freeing: It brings you back into the present…what matters is that, to the degree you can, you make your own life sustainable every day.”
*Makes mental note*
“Sled dogs can run farther, in a shorter time, than almost any other animal. But they only think as far ahead as they can see, hear, and smell..It is, in its way, that simple.”
That makes me think of Terry Fox, and what I wrote about last week…how he ran to the next curve, to the next hill, etc. And those small pieces added up to a marathon, each and every day.
Just like the dogs, we need to take care of ourselves in case we are in a long stretch, and since we can't see too far ahead, just truly make the best of where we are at this moment.
And it doesn’t have to be perfect either.
“What My Sled Dogs Taught Me About Planning for the Unknown” by Blair Braverman https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/23/sports/sled-dogs-mushing-unknowns-planning.html
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