Show Up for the Future

The future belongs to the people who show up for it.

It’s as simple as that.

I can’t tell you what will happen with the Covid-19 virus. But I can tell you that fear is at least as deadly as the virus.

Unless you’re behaving stupidly, you probably won’t get Covid-19. Unless you’re in a high-risk group (over 70, smoker, etc.), you’ll almost certainly be fine even if you do get it. You might get it and never even know that you had it. Even if you’re in a high-risk group, the odds are a little worse but they’re still in your favor.

Most of the problems we’re seeing right now aren’t caused by the virus. They’re caused by fear.

What does the future hold? We don’t know. But that was also true last year, and the year before that. We weren’t afraid then. Why should we be afraid now?

It’s relevant, so let me tell you how I got a varsity letter as a high-school cross-country runner.

I wasn’t very athletic and was about 40 pounds overweight at the start of the cross-country season. The only reason I was even on the team was that my school required all students to participate in sports. I had to sign up for something, and cross-country was the only sport that didn’t require calisthenics, which I hate.

On the first day of practice, I set a new record for the longest it had ever taken anyone to run the cross-country course. As far as I know, my record still stands today.

After my humiliating first run, I started what I called my “coffee diet.” The theory was simple: drink two cups of coffee with every meal, and don’t eat anything. In reality, I did eat a few hamburgers, so it was more like a low-carb diet.

The pounds fell off. By the end of the season, I was slim, fit, and still a lousy runner. In races, I always came in last.

But I got a varsity letter. Why? Because I always showed up, and I always finished. I worked so hard and improved so much that my letter should have been an “A for Effort.”

The future is the same way. If you give up, then you’re done. The future will be made by people who keep on running even if they don’t feel like it. They won’t quit.

So don’t give up. Show up.

Check out my book Why Sane People Believe Crazy Things: How Belief Can Help or Hurt Social Peace. Kirkus Reviews called it an “impressively nuanced analysis.”

About N.S. Palmer

N.S. Palmer is an American mathematician.
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2 Responses to Show Up for the Future

  1. J P says:

    Your cross country experience reminds me of my middle son. He ran cross country in 7th and 8th grade. He started because his best friend ran it. John was always a big kid (6’7″ now) and was built like a Clydesdale at that age. Not natural running material, you might say. Like you he came in last in every meet. He would get frustrated and would quit in the car on the ride home every time. But the next week he would be back at practice. It was the City meet of his 8th grade that we celebrated a tremendous achievement – second from last! 🙂

    I respected that. I hated sports and never willingly participated in any, choosing to play trombone in the marching band instead. I now know that the discipline of a sport would have been a good thing for me. At least I got some of that in the band, with our early morning and late evening practices all summer.


    • N.S. Palmer says:

      Second from last! What I would have given for such a triumph! I’m sure that both of you were delighted.

      I was also in the band. I spent my whole senior year trying to quit, but I was the only good trumpet player they had and it was a military academy so they didn’t have to let me go if they didn’t want to. Sports that I played badly were cross country, soccer, tennis, and football. I was a decent fencer even though I broke my wrist at the start of the season and had to fence left-handed. I also did well on the rifle team, which didn’t require athletic ability and did benefit from relentless practice. Amazingly, at that school we had guns all over the place and nobody ever shot anyone. I wonder why. No, I don’t really wonder at all. I know why.

      Liked by 1 person

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