Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Without Limits

About a year ago I started to watch the movie "Without Limits" which is based on the life of Steve Prefontaine, American record holder in the 5000 meters. I did not finish it, but knew that it was going to be worthy of a place on my list. I finally was able to finish it and while it would have been good to watch it a year ago it would not have had the same impact on me that it did tonight. Pre, as he was called, was never one to win a race the conventional way and rejected any other way to win besides giving it everything from the beginning. His style of running was quite distinct from that of his competitors, as was his way of looking at life. Some considered him to be stubborn and unwilling to change. He saw himself as unwilling to compromise his belief in himself.
During the movie he falls in love with Mary, who attends the same university and insists that he is not her type. At one point after he shows his optimism about their relationship she says, "Are you always this positive about everything?" To which he replies, "Consider the alternative." This exchange really brought to my mind something I've been thinking about lately which is: What is the purpose of life? Is it merely to avoid pain and displeasure? Are we here with the point of just not dying or living as long as we can? The answer in my opinion is of course not. The meaning of life is not just to avoid pain but to have joy. It should not be the difficult, perhaps depressing or stressful times that define our lives. Our lives should be made out of a pursuit of "the better". Consider the alternative. If we live our lives only trying to not be hurt, sure, we will occasionally be happy, but overall important parts of life will be missed. Being positive and believing in oneself lends to a life full of amazing events, as it did in the life of Pre. He always looked to better himself and with that outlook he often succeeded.
Near the end of the film Pre's coach Bill Bowerman talks about his how Pre helped change his coaching philosophy. He says, "He finally got it through my head that the real purpose of running isn't to win a race. It's to test to the limits of the human heart." Another life metaphor can be drawn here as well, with life being the race we are all running. The purpose should not be just to finish, or even to finish first, but to put everything in to living as passionately and intentionally as possible.

On a personal aside, this past year, I have run a bad race, and have done very little by way of living intentionally. Passion has not run through my veins as it once did, which may have been evident in my posts. This movie now came at the right time to challenge my current way of living and remind me of ideals that I still keep guarded inside.
My hope, as always, is that we may all live passionately, and continue to be inspired by life around us.

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