The Gold Ring

He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning point but he did not know it. He put the ring in his pocket almost without thinking; certainly it did not seem of any particular use at the moment.”  

– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

When my daughter was younger, she told me, on our drive to school, about a fascinating dream she had.  She was studying geography at the time, and her dream was about one of her teachers narrating a story.  The teacher’s words were magically projected in a way that the kids could actually see the story unfolding in front of them like a hologram.  It was about a man who owned a beautiful, magical gold ring that he had mistakenly left on top of a cliff.  A cliff overlooked the ocean, with crashing waves.  A villain climbed the cliff and stole the ring and disappeared with it.  When the owner of the ring returned, he was terribly distraught to learn that it had disappeared.  He searched high and low for the ring and just when he thought there was nowhere else to look and was ready to give up his search, he happened to reach in his pocket and there was the ring—it had been there all along.

 Of course, Mama the shrink found this dream to be fascinating, but I spared her a dream analysis discussion and just let her be excited about the dream at face value.  The best part for her was the live projection from the teacher’s mere words. But I couldn’t help thinking afterwards about the symbolism in the dream and how it could apply to us all.  We all have those villains and demons, the ones who steal our magic gold ring.  For some it can be an external source of discouragement, listening to what others tell them they can or can’t do.  For many of us, it’s that internal voice who steals the ring.  The voice that says for example,  “Your injury will never heal, and you’ll never do another race again.”  Or where the villainous voice in your head says loud and clear, “You—26.2 miles—HAHAHAHAHAHAHA–are you kidding me?”   How easy it is to sink into the quicksand of self-doubt. But eventually, we remember we have a gold ring, somewhere.  Really, how many times have we been through this “are you kidding me?” mentality only to cross the finish line when it’s time.

So again, let me remind you (in my ad nauseam way) to be fully present with the aspects of our lives that we can control.  Focus on our training plan one week at a time. Or if recovering from injury, focus on the next step to healing and getting stronger. Or losing weight.  Or rethinking the cancelled season.  Or pondering our small part in making the world a better place. Because right now we can’t look too far into the future. We can’t assume that everything about this uncertain future will be bad—it never is.  During these times, reach down and feel the gold ring–you may have misplaced it, but it always ends up back in your pocket.

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