w: ajleon

What I Learned while Running on the Shores of Siam

I’ve reconvened on my green bench, watching the tide inch ever nearer with each wave. In two hours, the shoreline will evaporate and be submerged into the blueish-green billows of the Gulf of Siam. I am completely cognizant that this should not be surprising nor delightful as it is a daily and common occurrence – high and low tide. But I find this nature’s choreography intoxicating. The mighty ocean subsides every evening, and begins to creep up on man as he begins his day. Poseidon ensuring we don’t forget about him, no doubt.

This morning, I decided to take another run on the shores of the Gulf of Siam. When one runs on the beach, there is no gliding. The rhythmic cadence of trail running abates to the precipitous slog of digging one foot out of the shifting sand after another. There is no sure-footing. And each step is a painful triumph gained at a high cost of exhaustion. The sun beats down on you from above, and it’s blistering reflection careens wildly off the waves as it begins to bake your exposed skin. Your pace plummets and your heart rate climbs. Your muscles ache incrementally more with each additional step.

Indeed, I can run further and faster on a paved and well-set road. But I can run deeper when my foundation isn’t fully set. Where each step matters. Where I cannot coast or place my being into autopilot, where I can feel the intensity and effort of each footprint left as a remnant on the shores. Where the shifting sands make each new movement less predictable. Sometimes too, in a life, it feels as though we need a more solid foundation in order to start moving forward and gain the most traction.

But that is rarely the case.

A young man said to me recently, “I cannot wait to be as successful as you, so that I can travel the world and go on adventures like you.” What this young man doesn’t know is that I learned how to be an adventurer almost six years ago, when I would set off on jaunts across Europe or when I hopped a flight to work on a humanitarian project in Africa with veritably no disposable income whatsoever.

You learn how to pursue great things when your footing is unsure, when the shores are unsteady and the road is far away, when the very next step you plant may indeed be more difficult than the last.

Every true adventurer knows this verity all too well.

“If you feel no resistance, if there is no sacrifice involved, it’s probably not worth doing.”

And I will add this.

If there is not at least a possibility that your pursuit, whatever it might be, may end in cataclysmic failure, then even your success in that endeavor will be tempered.

Greatness is only the positive reflection of the defeat that is probable in the pursuit of it.

Greatness is only ever a possible outcome when the prospect of utter, unmitigated defeat is also on the table.


Your Fellow Misfit,
AJ Leon

Originally Published in the Misfit Journal

522 words



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