Since I was little, I was always inspired by the story of the original marathon.
The brave soldier Pheidippides, pushing through the limits of human endurance, running through exhaustion to bring word of the victory, delivering the message with his dying breath.
I was somewhat crushed when the historical inaccuracies of the story were pointed out to me. After the battle, it is recorded that the entire army moved back to a defensive perimeter around Athens, so it is unlikely that a runner would have been sent ahead. If there had been a messenger sent, it very likely would have been on horseback.
Recently I was told a likely more historically accurate story of Pheidippides, and I now find him even more inspiring and thought-provoking.
As the army was gearing up to fight the Persian invaders, he is ordered to run to Sparta to request reinforcements. 145 miles through rugged mountains, 36 hours, no sleep, no rest, very little food. When he gets there, the Spartans refuse to send anyone until the end of their religious festivals.
Carrying the bad news, he turns around and runs the same 145 miles back to join up with his comrades…to find the Persians have been driven back, he has missed the whole show, and the reinforcements that he was unable to bring back were not needed.
So why the story of the 26 mile run to death?
Pheidippides likely would have spent years muttering in his drink over being sent off on a useless errand while his brothers in arms defended his home. Everyone else gets the glory of throwing the invaders back into the sea, but the one guy sent off for help misses it. I think that over the years, those who remembered his epic determination and ability to put the good of everyone above his own desires for glory painted a picture that he would have enjoyed. Defeating the foe, giving everything to carry word of the victory home, and a death in glory that we are still talking about 2500 years later.
So, what will the future remember of what YOU consider your failures, the things that you poured all you could into but could never quite make work out?
Never forget that what you see of your own life tends to be the gag reel. To often we compare it to everyone else’s highlight reel and are amazed when we don’t measure up. We think what we are doing cannot possibly matter, but never understand who may be inspired by it.
“We create the meaning in our lives. It does not exist independently. Being Anla-shok does not mean worrying about what others will think about us. It does not mean deciding what to do based upon whether or not it serves our sense of ego or destiny. It means living each moment as if it were your last one. It means doing each right thing because it is the right thing. The scale doesn’t matter. The where, the when, the how, or in what cause .. none of those things matter. In my life, I’ve discovered very few truths. Here is the greatest truth I know: Your death will have a meaning if it comes while you’re in fullest pursuit of your heart”
– Sech Turval
Go out and seek what truly matters in your heart, no matter how many people think it is useless. You never know how your story will be written, or who will look to your story as an example.