Obligations, Commitments and Opportunity Costs

Some Rushin’ Guys

I was standing among 5,000 other runners in New York’s Central Park.  The difference between them and me was that they were ready to run a 10K race in support of Kidney Health and I was in jeans, jet lagged and schlepping a suitcase, a leather jacket and a computer bag.

After arriving at Newark at 5:30am, I hopped a bus to the Port Authority in the city. I had 10 hours until my next flight took off. I could have taken a shuttle directly to JFK, but what fun would that have been.  I find that planes give me time to sleep, read and work.  On a bus, I get time to sit and think. This is the same bus line that I had my girls on when we visited last December.  The six months have passed so quickly.

After the bus, I took a few minutes to walk over to Times Square.   Before 7am, the runners owned the streets around the Square, which prompted me to allocate 5 minutes to head up to the Central and jot a few notes about running up by Columbus Circle. I asked a young runner to snap a picture of me in front of the fountains at the head of the park, when I noticed she had a timing chip on her shoe.  Like a dork, I mentioned that she forgot to take it off from her last race, and as if in slow motion, I remembered that I there was a New York Road Runners race in the park that morning.

Miles to go before I sleep

I recall seeing the race on the schedule a month before and mentioning to Laura that I could make it to the City in time for the race.  She gently pointed out to my how crazy that idea would be, so I didn’t pursue thinking about it anymore.  Maybe it was the jet lag or the perception of 9 hours in front of me, but on the ground, early on a Saturday morning, the idea didn’t seem so crazy.  I had all my gear in my bag and there was a baggage check (although they don’t usually check 40lb bags). I walked through the registration area and was hyped up to do the run by the announcers.  This race drew professional racers who wold complete the 6.2 mile course in under 30 minutes.  I could so enjoy participating in this race. It would probably help me sleep on my next flight too, that would definitely be a plus. Unfortunately I have previous commitments this day and could not run the race. After watching the runners start, I decided it was time to move on to Penn Station.
Right in front of the kiosk where I bought my ticket was a posting for a train that was leaving in 4 minutes.  As I called my dad to tell him what time I was arriving, I realized that I mis-set my travel watch and that it was 8:40 am instead of 7:40.  I had lost an hour at this race . I felt like I squandered a very precious hour that could have been spent with my dad and felt horrible.

Much like the rest of life, the time in this day was dear. There were  obligations, commitments and other things still that I just want to do.    The obligations of this day related to work.   I had to be on the plane to be in Berlin for a 10am meeting the next day.  There was still choice, but I was at this point obliged to go.   Then there are commitments; I made them to my dad and to friends to visit on the Long Island.   These were good commitments AND they precluded me from doing the other things I wa1nted to do, which was run YET another race in New York City.  Sarcastically, I reminded myself , I hadn’t run Central Park since last September.

I met my dad and we drove to the North side of Long Island.   He ordered way too much food for breakfast, and I helped him finish it.  We walked, talked, laughed and caught up.   Then at  my friends arrived and we laughed and had fun.

When my dad and I got to the airport, there were long check in lines.  We waited in line recounting the time with friends.  I realized that it had been six months since I had seen two of the friends with my dad.  I also realized that it was the second straight time I hadn’t time to visit my home town of Long Beach.  I go there like clockwork every visit.   But it’s just a place. It’s been there my whole life.  Friends and family will not.  Again, it comes down to choices about how I use the time.   There are only so many good-bye’s left with my dad.

Do I wish I could have run this race, OH Heck yeah.  Would it have been a great story, yes.  But everything has an opportunity cost, something that must be given up in order to select a choice. If I do this, I don’t do that. There are always races to be run, and so few opportunities to spend time with family and warm friends.  Both activities would have been enriching and I made the right choice.  Miles to go before I sleep, Miles to go before I sleep.

Time is dear and there are so many wonderful ways to use it up.

What are your choices regarding how to use your time today?

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Obligations, Commitments and Opportunity Costs

4 thoughts on “Obligations, Commitments and Opportunity Costs

  1. hours are indeed precious, and you seem to forever make the most of them. Perhaps you should plan NOW to run that race in Central Park again NEXT year. :o)

  2. Doug Vogt says:

    Wonderful Story Mike. Life is precious. We don’t often make the right choices, but if you follow your heart, you usually can’t go wrong. Doing the next “right” thing might not be what you “want” to do, but often is the most rewarding and “best” choice.

Your thoughts would be appreciated

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