When I was in high school, I had a short stint on the cross country team.
I was nowhere near big enough to play football, but societal pressure persuaded me to participate in some activity - any activity, and being tall and skinny made cross country a good fit.
My long distance running career lasted for just one season, but a consistent message from the coach has stuck with me to this day.
I can still hear his voice telling me to "break through the wall."
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, "hitting the wall" is used to express the moment when your body can physically go on, but you mentally stop yourself from getting there.
Though it's usually un-intentional, this moment is a massive detriment to a runner's performance in a race.
There are many quips about the "rat race" of life, or winning the "race to the top," or "racing ahead."
Stay with me…
Life is a race, and although it is not one that people strive to be the first to finish (duh!), the comparison is pretty obvious.
There is a clearly defined beginning and end, there are rules and regulations, and there are many things that get in the way of reaching the goal.
I guess in this analogy, the goal isn't necessarily to finish, it is to run a good race.
So the question arises, what defines running a good race?
If I learned one thing from the grueling cross country practices and meets, the absolute answer is breaking through the wall.
Shamefully I say that it only happened once during that season.
There was only one time that my mind was telling my body I was done for, lights out man, my brain said.
But for some reason, I ignored myself. I actually achieved a goal that I previously considered to be out of reach - making it to the top of "The Bear" (the nickname for a gigantic and steep hill on one of our practice routes).
Not to say that was my crowning moment in life, but it is something I think of quite a bit.
So to bring this nonsense full-circle, I find myself hitting the wall frequently in life.
I can still hear coach's voice from the other side telling me to break through, but it's easier said than done.
Ironically, while I was writing this column, I got a call from my dad. Even though the topic of our conversation was different, he said something that was very applicable.
"When you look to the solutions, the problems go away," he said.
If you can see the other side of the wall in front of you, the wall disappears.
Page 2 of 2 - But if you focus on everything that was used to build the wall, the obstacles and set-backs, that will be all you can see.
I guess maybe that's what the whole point is.
Don't waste time worrying about what is wrong and what is in your way.
Pay attention to where you want to be, and the things that are right.
Give time to the things that will get you to the other side of the wall.
This sounds like a common sense concept, but it is so hard to put in practice.
Even when I see people failing at it daily - including myself, it is a totally different song once I look at my life from an outside perspective.
It's hard to push yourself, and it's easy to be an "as-is" item on the shelf - no warranty.
Breaking through the wall of life's hardships is, without a doubt, the toughest thing I am encountering these days.
But I can see the other side through the little cracks that are starting to form in the wall.
And let me tell you my friends, the grass looks pretty green over there.
Jesse Murphy is managing editor at the Maryville Daily Forum. He can be reached at email@example.com