Last night I started playing with an old pocket Etch A Sketch I had sitting on a book shelf. I stared at it for a while before shaking loose the picture I had drawn a year before. I wouldn’t say my drawing was perfect, but nonetheless it was a drawing. Growing up I never really understood kid’s fascination with the Etch A Sketch. All I knew was that I could make a line go up and down or left and right, while I proceeded to draw a series of boxes without any coherent structure. But, one day in college I was holding a pocket Etch A Sketch I had received as a gift. I curiously played with the knobs as I practiced making shapes other than squares or rectangles. Before I knew it I was drawing a picture that actually looked like something other than just a bunch of enigmatic lines. It may not have been the best drawing, but with a little bit of patience and perseverance I had created something from nothing. I had conquered something that at one time seemed impossible.
I once looked at running the way I once looked at an Etch A Sketch. I never understood people’s fascination with it. All I knew was that running would make me tired and that I lacked the ability to be successful at it. One day I decided to go for a run and see how far my legs could take me. Like an Etch A Sketch I shook away my doubts and started on a new canvass. I moved my legs like never before – faster and further. With patience and perseverance I turned myself into a runner. Suddenly impossible, once again, became possible.
A lot of times people don’t realize that overcoming an obstacle starts with simply attempting to overcome it. I would never have drawn an actual picture on my pocket Etch A Sketch if I hadn’t tried. As I began sketching on it last night I thought about how I once believed that I could never draw anything discernible on it. When I was done drawing I had finished my best and most detailed sketch. I must have stared at it a hundred times last night, so satisfied with my accomplishment. You can even ask my wife. I think I showed her my drawing about 20 times and kept saying “Do you see what I did. I did that. Me. Can you believe it?” It was a small accomplishment and I know my drawing wasn’t flawless, nor would it even be considered great, but to me it is something special. I felt the same way when I finished my first 5K, half marathon and full marathon – extremely proud.
You must realize that any accomplishment, big or small, is important. I don’t care if it’s running for two minutes, when you only thought you could run for one. I don’t care if it’s starting the Couch to 5K program. I don’t care if it’s just beginning to exercise for the first time. What matters most is that you start turning the knobs on your Etch A Sketch of life and see what you come up with. You may surprise yourself.