May be the year to pull a Cliff Young

images I am like Marianne Williamson, I write in my bed. No matter that my office is gorgeous, well lit and organized. I write, ponder, dream and revise in my bed, surrounded by books open, books stacked, and books on shelves. And not a day has passed since the age of six that I do not read no matter where I am in the world.

But this year, I decided to up the ante – committing to do daily devotions to social media. Not pray to them, just get on line – one post at a time. But I’m not very good at technology, as I just joined Linked In and got a request from myself. Well, at least I’m connected. To who, I’m not sure.

Then one of my daughters, who really thinks she’s helping her antiquated mother, sent me an email entitled, and I’m not making this up – “442 Tips to Monetize your Social Media Presence in 2014”. It lists every social media outlet that I have not heard of. Opening up the first article, my eyes glazed over in under nine seconds. Think I’ll just go get a box of bon-bons and dial up somebody up on a rotary telephone.

I may have to turn into Emily Dickinson, committing to this social media thing, as I have no idea when you would actually have time to work. So this just may be the year to pull a Cliff Young. Cause it may be just what it takes to make it happen.

This is an except from Ann Voscamp’s post on January 22, 2014.
She is a Farmer’s wife. Home-educating mama to 6. Author of the NYT bestseller One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. 
“The old cahoot ran in his boots.

Weren’t too many of anybody who believed he could.

How the old guy ran for 544 miles. His name was Cliff Young and he wasn’t so much. He was 61 years old. He was a farmer.

Mr. Young showed up for the race in his Osh Kosh overalls and with his work boots on, with galoshes over top. In case it rained.

He had no Nike sponsorship.

He had no wife – hadn’t had one ever.

Lived with his mother. Never drank. Never ran in any kind of race before. Never ran a 5 mile race, or a half-marathon, not even a marathon.

But here he was standing in his work boots at the starting line of an ultra-marathon, the most gruelling marathon in the world, a 544 mile marathon.

Try wrapping your head around pounding the concrete with one foot after another for 544 endless, stretching miles. They don’t measure races like that in yards – -but in zip codes.

First thing Cliff did was take out his teeth.

Said his false teeth rattled when he ran.

Said he grew up on a farm with sheep and no four wheelers, no horses, so the only way to round up sheep was on the run. Sometimes the best training for the really big things is just the everyday things.

That’s what Cliff said: “Whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go run and round up the sheep.” 2,000 head of sheep. 2,000 acres of land.

“Sometimes I’d have to run those sheep for two or three days. I can run this race; it’s only two more days. Five days. I’ve run sheep for three.”

“Got any backers?” Reporters shoved their microphones around old Cliff like a spike belt.

“No….” Cliff slipped his hands into his overall pockets.Unknown-2

“Then you can’t run.”

Cliff looked down at his boots. Does man need backers or does a man need to believe? What you believe is the biggest backer you’ll ever have.

The other runners, all under a buffed 30 years of age, they take off like pumped shots from that starting line. And scruffy old Cliff staggers forward. He doesn’t run. Shuffles, more like it. Straight back. Arms dangling. Feet awkwardly shuffling along.

Cliff eats dust.

For 18 hours, the racers blow down the road, far down the road, and old Cliff shuffles on behind.

Come the pitch black of night, the runners in their $400 ergonomic Nikes and Adidas, lay down by the roadside, because that’s the plan to win an ultra-marathon, to run 544 straight miles: 18 hours of running, 6 hours of sleeping, rinse and repeat for 5 days, 6 days, 7 days.

The dark falls in. Runners sleep. Cameras get turned off. Reporters go to bed.

And through the black night, one 61-year-old man far behind keeps shuffling on.

Cliff Young runs on through the night and there is a Light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not master it.

Cliff Young runs on through the dark — because he didn’t know you were supposed to stop.

The accepted way professional runners approached the race was to run 18 hours, sleep 6, for7 days straight. But Cliff Young didn’t know that. He didn’t know the accepted way. He only knew what he did regularly back home, the way he had always done it: You run through the dark.

Turns out when Cliff Young said he gathered sheep around his farm for three days, he meant he’d run across 2,000 acres of farmland for three days straight without stopping or sleeping, without the dark ever stopping him. You gathered sheep by running through the dark.

So along the endless stretches of highway, a tiny shadow of an old man shuffled along, one foot after another, right through the heat, right through the night. Cliff gained ground.

 

Cliff gained ground because he didn’t lose ground to the dark. Cliff gained ground because he ran through the dark.

And somewhere at the outset of the night, Cliff Young in his overalls, he shuffled passed the toned runners half his age. And by the morning light, teethless Cliff Young who wasn’t young at all, he was a tiny shadow — far, far ahead of the professional athletes.

UnknownFor five days, fifteen hours, and four minutes straight, Cliff Young ran, never once stopping for the dark – never stopping until the old sheep farmer crossed the finish line – First. He crossed the finish line first. Beating a world record. By two. whole. days.

The second place runner crossed the finish line 9 hours after old Cliff.

And when they handed old Cliff Young his $10,000 prize , he said he hadn’t known there was a prize. Said he’d run for the wonder of it. Said that all the other runners had worked hard too. So Cliff Young waited at the finish line and handed each of the runners an equal share of the 10K.

And then the old cahoot in boots walked a way without a penny for the race but with all the hearts of whole world.

While others run fast, you can just shuffle with perseverance.
While others impress, you can simply press on.
While others stop for the dark, you can run through the dark.

The race is won by those who keep running through the dark.

When those reporters asked Old Cliff that afterward, what had kept him running through the nights, Cliff had said, “I imagined I was outrunning a storm to gather up my sheep.””