In the recent Commonwealth Games, spectators and viewers were shocked by the confronting sight of Scottish marathon runner Callum Hawkins collapsing mid race, requiring medical attention.
Fortunately Hawkins avoided the fate of the man whose fabled run inspired the creation of the marathon—a Greek soldier who died moments after delivering a message from the battlefield—and has been released from hospital.
No Pain, No Gain?
However, this incident was distressing enough and has raised questions about the response of organisers. Some have defended them, pointing out Hawkins initially refused treatment as it would have meant disqualification. That debate aside, the commitment of athletes at Hawkins’ level, who push through pain and physical discomfort on a daily basis, and sacrifice social and leisure time in the pursuit of success, does make one stop and think.
Modern society seems to tell us that we can actually have everything we want, that we don’t have to choose. We can have our cake and eat it or, perhaps more accurately, we can spend our money today and buy the big stuff we want on credit! But, the reality is that even if we aren’t a professional athlete sometimes we have to give up one thing in favour of another.
My Own Rubicon
Around five years ago, I realised that I needed to make a choice that, while not on the level of someone like Callum Hawkins, meant giving up something I enjoyed. I used to love playing online computer games, often joining multiplayer sessions with international players, and spending hours at a time romping through virtual worlds. But, I also dreamed of being a published author, and I realised that—for me—the two were incompatible. There simply wasn’t enough time in the day to do all the things I wanted.
You Can’t Have it All
When I complained to a professional writer that I had no time to write he bluntly pointed out that the time I spent gaming online was time I could be writing, as were the hours of television I watched. In the end it came down to this simple fact: I could have the same amount of leisure time, or I could have a writing career, but I couldn’t have both.
I often hear the same complaint—of not having the time to write—from aspiring writers, in the same breath that they are talking about binge watching Netflix, or playing the latest games, and it’s a reminder of the wisdom of that advice…not that I always follow it myself!
This is true of any passion. I was talking to one of the most talented guitarists I have ever known, someone who made it look effortless, and was in demand as session must as well as playing in several bands. As a dabbler in the luthian arts myself, I asked how he had gotten to this point and he explained as a teenager he would get home from school and practice for three of four hours every day. He had given up other hobbies and activities—that’s why he was so much better than so many others,
The choices that we will face will be unique, different passions requiring different sacrifices, and hopefully we won’t find ourselves in as extreme straits as someone like Hawkins. But, perhaps it is worthwhile taking a moment to reflect on what it is that is important to us—and what we are willing to give up in its pursuit.
David Goodwin is the Editor of The Salvation Army’s magazine,War Cry. He is also a cricket tragic, and an unapologetic geek.
David Goodwin's archive of articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/david-goodwin.html