A wide shot of the Andes Mountains with a snow covered Mt. Ausangate in the center. The 2020 team of eleven are hiking in the foreground on a beautiful day.

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Attitude to gratitude as a solution for guilt
23 Apr
2016
By 2020
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By Randy Pierce

Randy running the Boston Marathon 2016, eyes closed, with Jose.As most hopefully are aware, Jose Acevedo and I just completed a particularly difficult battle of determination against my medical challenges and the Boston Marathon course. Although we fully understood my very present and worsening medical condition was going to make this experience exceedingly difficult, my reality is that I feel badly for that impact upon his experience. In response to that feeling, I wanted to apologize every moment I felt my situation affect our experience. I was so frustrated at not being able to prevent these effects that I ultimately wanted to take action in some way and this led to the many “I’m sorry”s, which were well meaning. Unfortunately it isn’t necessarily helpful to hear these apologies again and again, especially as Jose fully understood this was a likely part of the challenge and he too was unable to do anything to make it better for either of us. It wasn’t that I had less sincerity in each apology, or that he doubted that sincerity. It simply wasn’t helpful and didn’t do much to make either of us feel better.

Jose and Randy running together in the Boston Marathon 2016Somewhere in the Newton Hills as we talked our way through this aspect of our communication, we reached an epiphany. I had expressed my thankfulness for his understanding and acceptance of the challenge. I expressed this with the notion of the benefit I was trying to achieve for myself in taking some action. I mentioned that in truth I felt guilty about believing I was “causing” a negative aspect for him. I understood only a bit that my repeated apology was just another slight negative. Jose brought it to clarity for us both by welcoming my gratitude as a positive. How simple a notion!

It is obviously good and right to apologize when we have done something to cause detriment to someone, whether by intent or inadvertently. It is equally positive and proper to realize the expression of thankfulness for someone’s choices in managing the challenges we create for them. That approach puts the emphasis on something so much more beneficial for each of us that it will certainly get my consideration as I stride forward in life. There were many lessons shared on the path of the Marathon which will continue far beyond the route from Hopkinton to Boston. I hope this one may enhance some perspectives for some of you, as I know it will for Jose and me going forward!

2 responses to “Attitude to gratitude as a solution for guilt”

  1. Denyse says:

    Randy,
    I went through a similar experience with my dear friend, although I was the Jose in the story. Diana and I belonged to a group that did races together for charity. She was a 3 time lymphoma survivor when we met. While we were preparing for a race she discovered the cancer was back again. She started her treatments again and both she and her Dr. we’re sure they’d beat it back into remission once again. Unfortunately that was not to be. After meeting with a renowned specialist we all had to come to terms that her condition was terminal. I decided to help make her remaining time as special as possible
    That included walking her beloved dog, Sasha and driving the 2 of them to New Hampshire to revisit a place she loved. All of this while Hurricane Sandy was barrelling up the East coast. We had a magical adventure! Sandy left a lot of rain but we were able to take small hikes and marvel at the beauty of the raging waters Sandy left behind. Towards the end of her time, on a day where she was feeling horrible she almost yelled “why do you keep coming to help me every day!”: Through tears similar to those I’m shedding as I write this I replied, “Because l love you and I will keep coming back no matter how tough it gets unless you tell me not to.” I was by her side through it all.
    After all that I know I can’t talk for Jose but I think I understand him and I will tell you it is worth every struggle, every joy, every second.
    I know I’ve said it before Randy but my admiration for you just grows and grows.
    Denyse

  2. Rafia says:

    Thank you for this lovely post, Randy. I don’t know you but I’m a friend of Jose’s and I’ve watched your adventures together on FB. I needed these words this morning. It is so easy to let our guilt wrangle us into knots. How much more liberating to shift into gratitude for the ways that life is holding us. Congratulations on your tremendous completion of the Marathon.

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