Overcoming Adversity: How to Eat an Elephant

“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.”
-William Arthur Ward, American author

Whew – what a week.

Lately work and personal life have been particularly taxing on me. To be honest, I’m feeling a bit in the doldrums, and not looking forward to my weekend workout routine like I normally do. But I’m trying to not allow a little adversity to get in the way of my goals.

We are human, and last time I checked, life puts a toll on even the toughest of us from time to time. And mental exhaustion can really take it out of us. Sometimes when I am mentally tired, it feels worse than when I am physically tired. Do you get that way?

Enjoying time on the Silver Comet with Mom

Enjoying time on the Silver Comet with Mom

I had the chance to take a load off the other day – leave serious workout mode and enjoy a nice easy bike ride with my mom. An amazing lady, she has a great way of putting things into perspective for me. When things build up and life seems to be so overwhelming you’re not really sure how to move forward, she calls it “trying to eat an elephant.”  Apparently I try to eat the entire thing at once. But the only way to accomplish the goal and solve the problem is to take small bites, small steps. Slowly chip away at the bohemeth in front of you, and eventually you will get to the end. [Apologies to my vegetarian friends out there - but be encouraged, I actually don't eat elephant.]

I enjoy being emersed in life, to be in the thick of things, using everything my Creator gave me to fully experience and enjoy this world and community of ours. But sometimes being emersed means we accidentally get mired down. The ocean of life I imagine playing in somehow turns to quicksand.

Whether it’s life, a personal goal, or a 6.2 mile run, I believe this holds true. The highest of highs exist alongside the lowest of lows. When we get bogged down, we can’t imagine going one more step. Heck… we sometimes don’t even know where to take that step.

But I want to remind myself to take small steps. Eventually we will reach that finish line in front of us, and it will be so worth it. Because truly living is better than the alternative. So here’s to taking small steps and emersing ourselves… despite adversity.

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” 
-Jack London

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Gen Neyland

June 18th, 2010
12:33 pm

And Neil Young sang, ‘It’s better to burn out than it is to rust’. We put to much emphasis on routine. Routines get disrupted. Then we feel pressed to squeeze it all in. Usually disruption wins, routines lose.

Recall reading a well known running author saying that as he was heading down the stairs to go out for a morning run one weekend day, he smelled bacon frying and knew his wife had breakfast plans for the two of them. He turned around, changed his clothes and cancelled the days run…Sometimes it’s best to stop and smell the bacon frying.


June 19th, 2010
9:34 am

I don’t understand! Why does your mother want you to eat an elephant? How many calories are in your average sized elephant any way? How many lunches could you make if you cut up this undoubtedly delicious elephant into lunch sized portions? Maybe if you eat some of the elephant and shared the rest you’d be better off! Sharing the elephant, that’s the answer!

Lauren Dieterich

June 21st, 2010
12:02 pm

There are a LOT of calories in an elephant! Wonder if I’d be better off sticking to Ben and Jerry’s…