Something Bigger Than You

As a freelancer, it’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind, focusing on clients and deadlines to the exclusion of everything else. It happens more than we’d like to admit. That’s why, for me, it’s been incredibly important to be part of something bigger than myself.

For the past two years, I’ve been running with Team in Training. Ok, maybe this isn’t 100% altruistic. With Team in Training, you commit to a fundraising goal for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and in exchange you get awesome coaches, mentors and a team of supporters to prepare you for an endurance event as a runner, cyclist or triathlete.

The selfish part of me gets a lot of benefit from the training. I have a plan, a goal and a team that will hold me accountable, forcing me to step away from the computer and, as one of the coaches says, “just do the damn thing.”

But there’s another intangible benefit that comes from participating. You’re reminded weekly – sometimes daily – that life is short and precious. There is nothing that will forcibly yank you from your work-related self-absorption quite like watching lymphoma turn a friend into a 40-year-old widow, or seeing a team honoree struggle with the side effects of his latest round of treatment.

I’m not saying that our work isn’t important; it is. But when you realize, as Luke did, that kids are starving, or people your age are dying from lymphoma, breast cancer, or heart disease, it starts to put things in a different perspective. You start to let go of some of the stress of that difficult project and realize just how fortunate you are to be healthy and doing what you’re doing. I know that it’s inspired me to look at my work and my life in new ways.

Are you a part of something bigger? What does it mean to you?