I believe in Distance

daman - santa monica, California
Entered on June 20, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

I admire Thoreau’s ability to go into the woods and discover who he really is. I believe it is necessary to “suck the marrow out of life,” as Thoreau put it. Life could only be prosperous if he could getaway from everything. I believe that distance from the world allows us to focus on who we are, our values and our purpose. This is the only way to ensure a healthy self-identity.

Minutes before the race, each team cheers trying to be louder than the other. Eager eyes survey the spectators, looking for familiar faces. This moment took months of preparation. As the saying goes, “if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.” Distancing yourself from everything is the only way to effectively prepare for such an event. Thoreau went to his woods, I go to my room. It gives me peace and quiet (except for the occasional “do need cookies?” from my mom). Here I contemplate what it takes to win. It starts off with a trip to the local Big 5 and buying a pair of new running shoes. I spend a lot of time in my own “woods”, preparing mentally.

When alone in my room, I get in touch with myself. I remind myself that keeping a steady pace makes a good long distance runner. A never-ending line of runners signifies the beginning of a race, sweat dribbling down faces from the building anticipation and heat. The gun is fired and the race begins. I’m ready. I know I don’t have to scramble to be the first in the beginning. If I maintain a steady pace, I will execute a good race. As others begin to burn out, I will stay strong.

In my room I remind myself to maintain composure throughout the race and what I need to do to finish. As we speed out from the starting line, I hold back knowing I can go faster as others speed ahead. I approach a hill with a rough, rocky road that is so steep I have to lean forward to the point where I can touch my shins, just to keep my balance. The time I spend in my room beforehand has prepared me for this. I can do it. The saved by maintaining a steady pace has allowed me to push past my red and wheezing competitors. I cross the finish line to the spectators’ surprise.

Henry Thoreau taught me the importance of getting away from everything. It allows for self-discovery and the ability to live a fulfilling life. I believe one must put reality in place, know themselves and ultimately have self control to finish the race; whether it be a cross country race or the race of life.