Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Line Between Work and Play


I feel like I've been talking about track a lot lately, but the reality is that it has indeed consumed my life.

This became glaringly obvious to me as I had the following conversation with a student in between classes yesterday afternoon:

Student: So, what am I running today?
Me: Well (pulling out the sheet I keep handy on race days for this very question--which comes millions of times), you are running the 100 hurdles, the 4x100 and the 800m.
Student: The 800?

(Pause) The 800, for all of you non-track people, is two laps around a track and nearly a half mile. To an eighth grader, racing this far is a very daunting task. Who am I kidding, to the majority of the average population this is a very daunting task.

Student: The 800?
Me: Yeah, Curtis and I were talking about this last night. We think you'll do great in the 800. In practice you have shown yourself to be a strong runner, and as we talked about this yesterday while making cookies, we felt confident that you'll do a great job.
Student: You talked about this while making cookies?

(Pause) At this point I have successfully distracted her from the intimidating race factor to the your-teacher-has-no-life factor...and she is grinning (success!!).

Me: Yeah. We wanted cookies, and still needed to map our our plan for the meet. Since we didn't have time for both, Curtis sat at the table while I measured flour and we talked through all the options. And that is when we decided that you would run an amazing 800 if put up to the task.
Student: You talked about this while making cookies.
Me: Yes...and you'll do great.

And this is when I realized the balance we carry in our everyday lives is a delicate one, a balance where baking cookies and planning event assignments simultaneously is necessary.

Because of the "focused" nature of my current existence, finding entertainment in these daily routines is a necessity, and nowhere is this easier than at a middle school track meet.

Yesterday it poured all day, and the show went on.

I arrived at the track, laden in running tights and pants, and layers of clothes under my rain coat. The junior high students ignored the rain in an attempt to maintain style, layering lace camisoles to peak out from their jerseys, and wearing tights with racing shorts that are intended to be paired with short skirts.

There we were, losing sight of shot put landings in the midst of deep puddles while the students gallivanted around in their muddy, soaked layers, chatting between throws as if they were at the mall.

After a few great victories and a couple wet meltdowns, we packed it up and headed home, just in time for the clouds to clear for the sunset.

Back at home Curtis and I discussed the plans for today's meet, the results of yesterday's meet, and the plans for the weekend. He made hot chocolate, I checked my e-mail, and shortly thereafter we received a phone call from a friend who needed some medical advice, delaying further evening relaxation.

And then we went to bed, with our plans to run the same play again today mapped out.

It's true, our professions--as teacher, doctor, coach--consume our lives. But sometimes they do so in beautiful ways, where serving others becomes an extension of ourselves, and the line between work and play is blurred beyond sight.

And that's what keeps us going.


  1. I love what a disciplined couple you are. At least it sounds that way. You do enjoy life, but you both put a lot of yourselves into what you do for work/service to others. I like this post because it addresses this fact and further proves what outstanding people you are BECAUSE of that service. I find in my own life the more I give, the more I find the version of myself I would want to be. Another beautiful post.

  2. So, how did she do? Did she bust out a good time? I remember considering the 800 a death sentence when asked to run it in high school... I wish my coach would have started talking cookies!

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    You sound like an awesome coach! The swimming coach I loved as a teen always figured out how to get me out of my shell. That's awesome how you brought up cookies to take away that daunting task. I'm sure that 8th grader will remember and appreciate it! Wish you could've had better weather :)