The Peloton of an Impossible Job: On Spinning and the Work of Heroes
Yesterday I was on a spin bike contemplating discovery while feeling decidedly stuck.
I love running for its efficacy in dissolving mental knots. Even the when a run doesn’t generate a solution for the challenge at hand, the physical act of transversing miles feels good. It is, quite literally, forward progress. Pedaling away on my stationary bike I was ruminating on the frustrating nature of my chosen form of exercise. My feet were strapped onto a bike and there was no movement whatsoever. My position was fixed — I was just sitting there spinning my wheels.
I was thinking about precisely why a run feels infinitely more satisfying than a spin class when I was gobsmacked by these words from Parker Palmer:
Take on big jobs worth doing — jobs like the spread of love, peace, and justice. That means refusing to be seduced by our cultural obsession with being effective as measured by short-term results. We all want our work to make a difference — but if we take on the big jobs and our only measure of success is next quarter’s bottom line, we’ll end up disappointed, dropping out, and in despair…
Our heroes take on impossible jobs and stay with them for the long haul because they live by a standard that trumps effectiveness. The name of that standard, I think, is faithfulness — faithfulness to your gifts, faithfulness to your perception of the needs of the world, and faithfulness to offering your gifts to whatever needs are within your reach.
The tighter we cling to the norm of effectiveness the smaller the tasks we’ll take on, because they are the only ones that get short-term results… Care about being effective, of course, but care even more about being faithful … to your calling, and to the true needs of those entrusted to your care.
You won’t get the big jobs done in your lifetime, but if at the end of the day you can say, “I was faithful,” I think you’ll be okay.
I assert that there are two precursors to doing the work of heroes. The first is the articulation of our own view of the needs of what world. What do you see? The second is trusting our own point of view enough to act. Do you hold your perspective to be relevant and valid? Do you trust yourself enough to take the first step towards that which is within reach? How about the second and third and fourth steps?
In an era of frenetic movement, the opportunity for deliberate action exists. So I’m heading back to the spin studio today in hopes of laying down my need for forward motion now and taking my place in the peloton of an impossible job of which I may never see a finish line. Consider this your invitation to join the ride.