Maturity: English for “Swift Kick to the Groin.”

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“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” -Henry Ford

I remember having an employee once who was so damn sure that the reason his pitch was ignored time after time was because of the reporters covering the client’s beat, as opposed to anything he was doing. He was convinced of it. I asked him how he knew, wondering what secret he had about every reporter in the space. His reply? “They all just don’t get it.”

“So every single reporter in the space doesn’t understand your pitch? All 22 reporters are just too stupid to understand your pitch?”

“Yup.”

“OK, then,” I said. About three weeks later, he came over to me to say, “hey, one of the reporters finally got it!” I asked him what he did differently, he said he changed his entire pitch.

“So the reporters obviously wised up,” I said with a smirk.

“I get it, Peter. It was my pitch.”

I also remember watching a self-proclaimed 100-jump wonder pound into the ground and break his femur, because he thought he knew more than he actually did. He came back to the sport the following year, on a much bigger, slower, and more docile canopy, declaring that his last impact into the ground had “matured” him.

It’s a funny word, maturity. Everyone wants it, yet everyone hates being told they need to get it. Everyone has moments when they claim they’ve matured, but it usually comes after a horrific beatdown.

I’ve yet to meet anyone who randomly, through no major life-altering situation, just happened to “mature.”

In other words, 99% of the time, for someone to decide to mature (or to make something viewed by others as a mature decision), a swift kick to the groin usually has to accompany said action.

The worst part about maturity, (or making a mature decision,) is the after-shocks from all the people who find out about it. The ones who say, “Well, that’s a mature decision to make,” or “Good. That’s the mature way to handle things,” which is, as you know, the freaking last thing you could possibly want to hear. These do-gooders, while under the impression that they’re saying the right thing, are in fact, drilling the sadness, the frustration, the destroyed sense of whatever that’s been crushed, which is what caused you make the decision in the first place, deeper and deeper into the very fabric of your being. And while they’re not doing it intentionally, you can’t push them away, or tell them to sod off, or even smack them in the eyeball, because well, hey, that wouldn’t be mature, would it?

So you smile politely, thank them, and swallow the bile that rises in your throat, bile that’s the byproduct of having to learn the maturity lesson in the first place.

If you’ve done it right, much like Henry Ford said above, eventually the sting of the lesson fades, leaving you that much smarter by its pain, much like a scab falling off to reveal fresh new skin. The hatred of not only that which caused the change, but the fact that the change was required in the first place both fade, and you can start anew, hopefully wiser for the experience, hopefully stronger, hopefully ready to take on new challenges, and perhaps defeat the demons that couldn’t be beaten because, despite how strong you thought you were, or how bulletproof you believed yourself to be, you lacked the maturity to realize, that retreating and reevaluating can sometimes be a much better strategy than charging in head-on and hoping for the best.

But until the sting fades, my God, does it hurt.

I can only hope that my pain fades, and the immense anger and frustration I’m feeling right now leads to a smarter, healthier, and yes, more mature me. That’s my hope. All I have, at this point, is the hope that my decision is the right one, and leads to that wiser, mature me. Because I’ll tell you… Right now? I ain’t feelin’ too hot.

I ran the Staten Island Half Marathon Sunday, to see how I’d feel, and if the pain that’s been accompanying my longer runs of late would go away.

I felt like crap, and I ran a 1:56:04. Exactly 10 minutes and 1 second longer than it took me to run the same exact course, in virtually the same conditions, a year ago.

I sit here and write this with ice packs on my hips, an inflamed IT band, and insofar as my Achilles? Forget it.

I’m broken.

I’m officially deferring from the 2007 ING NYC Marathon.

And it’s the right thing to do. And it’s the mature decision. And I’d rather sit it out, heal for six months, and come back and do this right next year. Perhaps ever break a personal record.

But you know what? That’s over a year away. And that might as well be a lifetime. Because right now? Right now really, really sucks. Right now is a broken me, sitting on a chair, full of ice, hoping the pain goes away.

Right now is the doing the mature thing. Right now is throwing six months of training away. Right now blows.

I’m trying really hard to take comfort in the quote below. It’s really, really difficult to do, but I’m trying.

“Courage doesn’t always roar.  Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.'”  ~Mary Anne Radmacher

I guess I’ll try again tomorrow.

-Peter

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