Don’t Sacrifice Precious Moments

[3-Minute Read + Activities]Should I indulge in what feels good now or sacrifice that to set myself up for the future? I confronted that decision after running 250km across the Simpson Desert.

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Does Sacrificing Today Make Tomorrow Richer or Poorer?

We all know that being fully present in life’s precious moments makes us happy. But sometimes, there are trade-offs to be made.

PHOTO: Our little gang of desert runners and volunteers on the way to Big Red Run in 2013

New, Lifelong Mates

Many moments in our lives can never be replaced. For me, those usually involve precious moments shared with other people. 

We all know that being fully present in those precious moments makes us happy. But sometimes, there are trade-offs to be made. 

I confronted that quandary after running 250km across the Simpson Desert.

I participated in the inaugural Big Red Run in 2013, achieving third female and sixth overall.

The last day of Big Red Run unfolded much like the ceremonial kilometres of the Tour de France. Competitors had already secured podium positions. We were free to finish the final leg at our chosen pace.

We had traversed the Simpson Desert for six days as part of a 250km foot race. Rain fell during the event, turning the sweeping plains to clay slop, adding that special je ne sais quoi to the experience. We camped in the desert ankle-deep in the mud each night without access to wash facilities or decent food.

Your entire life only happens in this moment. The present moment is life itself. Yet, people live as if the opposite were true and treat the present moment as a stepping-stone to the next moment – a means to an end.

— ECKART TOLLE

Organisers notified us of the final leg changes during our last night in camp. I can’t quite remember why they decided on the ceremonial format. Perhaps it had always been planned and I failed to read the briefing notes correctly.

As I shoved my stinking kit into a mud-coated bag, I felt glad for the casual day. My feet were raw with blisters. A shower and a fresh set of clothes awaited my arrival back into Birdville, with clean socks and thongs.

The runners milled at the front of the camp while the organisers shared instructions. I wandered over to stand with my newest buddies, whom I first met at a bus stop in Sydney eight days before. We now knew each other like lifelong mates. A 2000-kilometre drive and 250km of desert running soon do that to a gal.

Oh Look! A Film Crew…

The organisers told us to dump our bags in the transport trailer, and we headed into Birdsville. We clipped along at a lazy jog pace that soon faded to a walk.

Up ahead, a film crew tried to capture a triumphant finish for their narrative. They had a tough gig on their hands.

The film crew had swooped above the runners during most days of the race. On the ground, photographers crouched behind spinifex and laid flat on the salt plains, searching for angles. They were on a mission to capture the spirit of the event and excite the minds of future competitors.

One cameraman now sat on the back of a motorbike and moved along the pack, trying to spur some action.

After a kilometre or two, the front runners obeyed and formed a blunt arrowhead behind the camera. They looked like geese flying home at the end of a long day. Those keen to be the focal point of the cameraman’s lens moved ahead while others drifted behind.

The Moment Of Choice

“Why aren’t you up the front with them?” one of our mob asked me, pointing to the leading geese, “You deserve to be.”

A few hundred metres ahead and picked out the distinctive gaits of the other podium placers. I had watched their running form for days and recognised the subtle nuances of their movements.

My decision to remain with the straggling geese hadn’t been conscious; it simply felt right to be there. Should I chase down the front pack? I thought. Is that where I should be? It could be an excellent opportunity to get my face on the TV. Who knows what other doors that might open?

“Nah,” I replied, “that doesn’t look like much fun. I’d much prefer to be here with you.”

Like many moments in our lives, those last kilometres into Birdsville were once-in-a-lifetime. They would never be lived again.

Big Red Run was unique because of those new mates, and their shared joy of triumph now made my heart sing. I wanted to take a long, deep slurp from that cup of happiness before it was gone forever.

There will always be other times I can stick my face in a camera or snap some epic photos for fans. Those moments will open doors to other opportunities. But, if I sacrifice this precious moment with my friends, life will feel poorer.

When we arrived back in town, my mate Sal and I stepped around the filming gaggle and beelined for the Birdsville Hotel. We thrust ourselves onto the curve of the front bar and ordered a round of beers. Sal’s a pint straight out the tap, mine an icy cold Bundaberg Ginger Beer.

We wandered back outside to enjoy the cool shade of the front step. 

The camera crew recorded vox pops while we chinked glass.

PHOTO: On the steps of the Birdsville Hotel. Sal and I still draw enormous joy from this photo – a much-loved shared memory.

Activities To Explore Joy

Follow The Joy is one of the four points of the Go-Getter’s Compass. Use these activities in The Route To Unstoppable to connect with feelings of joy and recognise your own precious moments.

18 – Ignite Your Intrinsic Motivation

Do you recall times in your life when you have worked intensely on something and time stood still? Hours passed by and it felt like minutes. When that happens you know you’re living from a place of intrinsic motivation. > Do Activity

19 – Listen To Your Intuition

‘Intuition’ is the label we put on the group of signals our unconscious mind sends to help guide us in the right direction. One of those signals is ‘joy’ and it defines the pathway to our greatness. > Do Activity

20 – Soul-Deep Important To You

These themes are your “true north”. Orientate your decision-making and behaviours around them. It will give you an endless supply of energy and fulfilment. > Do Activity

21 – Create Joy In Your Everyday

You get to live your happiness now but you must a decision for that to happen. You must choose to express what is already deep inside you rather than longing to be someone else. > Do Activity

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