I recently participated in a recreational 5k race in which I felt like a tired dog. I had partied very vigorously the evening before and not preparing adequately before the race compromised my mental and physical stamina.
Several times during the race, I felt completely dehydrated and exhausted. During at least six separate occasions I slowed down to a brisk walk. I felt the ill effects of imbibing copious shots of dark rum the night before. It was surprising that I managed to finish the race, and only missed my personal record by two minutes--the event felt like a grueling ordeal which lasted hours. After steadily improving my personal record over the past few races, I was mildly upset after turning in a half-assed effort.
After picking up the participants' ribbon, I could have stormed home all mad at myself for turning in a stercoraceous effort. But I stuck around for about fifteen minutes, near the finish line, to cheer on the fellow runners. It was a revelation to see the exhausted-yet-smiling faces of other participants as they crossed the finish line--their joyous expressions quickly elevated my mood. The running community is, after all, the one where people encourage each other and enjoy the camaraderie (I have yet to witness an "I-ran-like-shit-so-I'm-gonna-take-my-marbles-and-go-home" tantrum at any of the events that I participated in). It felt good to cheer on other people's accomplishments.
I've played many recreational flag football games where I contributed minimally, but enjoyed watching others' kick-ass playmaking exploits. I've played shows where I wasn't feeling the groove and the band sounded less than optimal. But it felt good to let go and thoroughly enjoy other bands who were also playing at the club that night. Not surprisingly, that's how I've made new connects and parlayed them into interesting experiences later on. There are benefits to showing up, putting in the work, and spreading goodwill, even on days where I'm average instead of good or great.
One of the lasting images from recent times is a scene at the end of the 2010 World Series. Immediately after the San Francisco Giants beat the Texas Rangers in the final game, San Francisco players stormed onto the field to celebrate. One of the first guys who rushed the field from Giants' dugout was a former star pitcher whose struggles that season turned him into an bench-warming spectator during his team's playoff run. He may have been dissatisfied with his own performance, but his enthusiasm and joy after the series-clinching game were a refreshing sight to see.
Sometimes there are days when the rainbows are obscured by dark skies and thunderstorms. There are days when you feel like you're riding a cockhorse instead of a unicorn. When those days happen, it helps to enjoy the moment and focus on the awesomeness going on elsewhere.