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By Mike Rosen

This week, the featured post is authored by MenLiving facilitator, Mike Rosen. Mike is a father, a 4th grade teacher and has been the lead on our Tuesday night seperation / divorce meeting since its inception.  

As a kid, catching and hitting a baseball weren’t my strong suits. I was so scared to fail–to swing and miss and possibly look foolish–that I struck out looking the overwhelming majority of the time. Not three swings and misses, but all called Strikes. It drove my coaches, teammates, and parents crazy for years. My Dad stopped attending my games, I only played the minimum 2 innings each game required by the league and even then I was sequestered in Right Field where I would do the least harm defensively. One can’t fail if they don’t even try, right? In fact, one year in Little League my batting average was .000. That’s not a typo, not an exaggeration. Not a single hit all season. I should have started therapy right then and there.

Mindset dysfunction notwithstanding, a silver lining from the absence of my eye-hand coordination skills was a springboard into a career of running. Left, right, repeat. Got it. It’s been a part of me since the age of twelve– 41 years and counting, conservatively 60,000+ miles on my original, pain-free knees so far. I’m extremely thankful for running and its  place in my life. I ran competitively in college, trying to balance competing desires of training, academics, beer, and my social life. I recently read that only 2.3% of HS cross country runners continue on to a D3 program. Huh, I had no idea there were so few of us. Again, lucky and  grateful to have maintained momentum and kept it an integral part of my life. Hundreds of races, dozens of half marathons, and 20 full marathons and ultras have helped forge a fitness and mental tenacity I might never have known without it.

For example, I learned that as a race begins, whether on the track or on the road or the trail, regardless of distance or preparation or fitness level, a unique and very acute discomfort begins to set in. Through years and all my miles, I’ve learned to welcome it rather than find a way to stop it. Feeling that discomfort/pain meant I was precisely where I needed to be in order to be competitive or reach a particular goal. As the discomfort grew I welcomed him. I would say out loud, quickly and quietly, ‘hello friend’. I embraced it rather than avoided it. From there it was usually a battle of attrition i.e. I can endure this pain FAR longer than you can. Watch me.

Can pain be a welcome thing? In the ‘80s Nike built an entire ad campaign and mindset around the phrase ‘No Pain, No Gain.’ Not the wisest fitness advice, but I get their intent.  Carly Simon tells me  she doesn’t have time for the pain. The band War on Drugs sings about it here too. This past weekend I heard a musician and song that were brand new to me, his name is Max McNown and the song A Lot More Free. I know little about him other than he appears young and can sing real well. Not surprisingly, it’s a song about a love lost and the subsequent pain.

The chorus has a line that expresses ‘I’m a little more hurt and a lot more free..’ That simple wisdom gave me pause and an opportunity to reflect on my own path. I wouldn’t wish the emotional pain of separation or divorce or the dissolution of a relationship upon anyone. But could the pain in my life ultimately be translated into a good thing?

I think it can.

I am lucky enough to have evolved from where I was in my life and marriage to a place of increased awareness, gratitude, patience, and grace. I’m not sure that growth would have taken place without the pain. The quality of my relationships has grown tremendously since and I don’t think they would have or could have without the growth as a byproduct of the pain.

I don’t necessarily want to suffer, I don’t want anyone else to suffer either, though I know suffering in certain forms is inherent and unavoidable in (my) life. Can I objectively examine the pain and suffering  and find upside and the positive? Can I welcome it like an old friend, knowing the experience is precisely where I should be and ultimately there will be (could be) some good as an outcome, like deepening my gratitude or winning a race? I’m still practicing this viewpoint and at times it isn’t always easy. My invitation is to reflect on similar questions. Can you find the positive? Can you welcome it like an old friend?

“From this mountain I can see so far

Rivers running like deep, deep scars

Carrying the lifeblood through my veins

Is it crazy that I’m grateful for all the pain?

Cause I’m a little but hurt and a lot more free

I ain’t saying that you never took a toll on me

And for what it’s worth I can finally see

That I’m a little bit hurt and a lot more free

Yeah I’m a little bit hurt and alot more free..”


  • martin mcleish says:

    I like it Mike……there is no growth without pain in my experience 😀

  • Dan Kemp says:

    Beautifully stated Mike; I appreciate the message, and I appreciate the invitation. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom!

  • Randy L Estes says:

    Thanks, Mike. I appreciate your missives & messages. I was your precursor in Little League. It was the first time I was made aware that I wasn’t & would never be “good enough”. I endured for 3 years before I didn’t return .

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