A Matter of Perspective

AJW reflects on last year, gaining new perspective while moving into the next.

By on January 7, 2022 | Comments

AJW's TaproomOf all the life lessons that three decades of running has taught me, perhaps the most enduring one is the importance of perspective: gaining it and maintaining it. Mr. Lowndes, my high school art teacher, was a stickler for detail when teaching perspective from an artist’s point of view. In particular, Mr. Lowndes always said that in order to have a true sense of perspective, the artist needed to be reflective, focused, and action-oriented.

Thinking back on those art classes all those years ago, I recently realized how much running, in the way that it also teaches me perspective, has done so by providing me with meaningful and repeated opportunities to reflect, focus, and take action.

Last month while on my holiday vacation visiting family in Colorado, I had a few opportunities to escape the hustle and bustle of family life to enjoy a couple of hours out on the local trails. Each time, perhaps because it was the year’s end and I was in a contemplative mood, I took advantage of the stillness of my run to truly reflect, to think back on the past year, and hold the mirror up to those experiences that have shaped where I am now.

On the run, I did so without judgment, without sharing with others, and without drawing any conclusions. I just ran and reflected, that’s it.

Meghan Hicks descending a soft-dirt trail in Colorado. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

On a subsequent run after my return home, I found myself zeroing in on some of the experiences upon which I had reflected, and I focused more closely on why those experiences stood out. The solitary nature of my daily run gave me the time and the inclination to dive deeply, at least for an hour or so, into some of the things that had happened over the past year. I’ll admit, I didn’t necessarily like or enjoy the exercise of focusing, but it impacted me and impelled me to action.

Now, a week or so removed from the first two steps in my perspective-gathering process, reflecting and focusing, I am ready for the third step, taking action. But, alas, I am not quite sure where to start given the quixotic nature of some of my ruminations.

So, as any good runner would do, I will head out into my daily runs over these next few days, seeking some direction to take action. I will seek some answers to the questions that reflection and focus have provided and chart a course, any course, toward becoming a better version of myself, whatever that may require. Running has always done that for me, and I suspect it always will.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, Texas. As the Lone Star State’s oldest craft brewery, Saint Arnold prides itself on seasonal brews that integrate local ingredients into the brewing process. Their Texas Winter IPA does this masterfully with a generous amount of Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit used in the mash. The result is a delicious, mildly tart, barely bitter IPA that is enough to warm the soul on even the coldest Texas night.

Call for Comments

  • Have you gained perspective on life and running going into 2022?
  • How will you take lessons from the previous year to make this next one even better?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.