The Weakest Link

There is an opportunity to be generous, to myself, to someone else. I can slow down, or forgive myself for being slow. And with either of those small gestures I can keep the whole thing going.

I’ve spent a lot (too much) time thinking about the ways in which I’ve failed to impart my love for the outdoors and moving through forests in all the different ways to my children. They are intransigent. They are lazy. They are captives of our digital overlords. It’s all their fault.

Except for all the ways it’s mine.

No one likes to be the weakest link, the slowest runner, the last rider in line, still churning away up the hill when everyone else is speeding away down the other side. I have seldom waited for my kids, or maybe just never enough. When I had the chance to slow down and meet them where they were, I pushed the pace. Like an asshole.

The weakest link has an ego problem, having received a blunt bit of feedback about his/her physical, mental, or emotional fitness, and it’s hard to deal with. I’ve been there even recently.

Some days you’re the hammer. Some days not.

The generous thing to do when I am the weakest link is to accept it with grace, to will my ego smaller and get along the best I can, only the best I can. I can be grateful to the person whose brought me along on their adventure, pushed me to my limits.

The generous thing to do when I am not the weakest link is to slow down a little, lighten the mood, and let whomever I’m with feel comfortable with wherever we are and whatever we’re doing. I have nothing to prove and nothing to gain from pushing.

Of course, it’s never this simple. Any group dynamic, even one-on-one, is complicated, and the ways forward aren’t always there or they remain opaque to those of us whose main recourse is to try harder or talk more. I can be the fastest one on the day and the weakest link at the same time, and the answer is always to slow down and forget about myself as much as I can.