Have Tos and Get Tos

have tos and get tosLike most people, I have a list of have tos that can climb atop the mountainous piles of laundry and dishes and forms and and and.

And that’s the way of it. Each of my children had the same (wonderful) kindergarten teacher, and in her class, they learned that they could choose activities after certain tasks were complete They completed their Have Tos before they could choose their Get Tos.

Have Tos are a total drag, even if they have their place. Without running the wash endlessly, we’d all be wearing stinky socks and dirty underwear. Without washes dishes, we’d be scooping cereal into our hands and shoveling it right into our gobs.

But the Get Tos? The Get Tos are fantastic. I have lots of Get Tos, which I don’t always get to. If I get all my tasks done, sometimes I can enjoy a streaming binge, or extra time with my New Yorker subscription. They are supposed to be fun, small (or big) treats that we thoroughly enjoy.

Running is a Get To. It’s a little different, because I have to carve time into the day for it, intentionally. But when training for a big race, it can be easy to lose sight of the fun part. I keep track of every pace, every distance. Each day’s run has it’s own purpose, all geared toward getting me across the finish line.

As I slogged through a Time Trial on Saturday, feeling sick to my stomach and even more sick at heart as the race is just three weeks away and my confidence is AWOL, I spied these little guys, just sitting in the sun on some steps along my route.


They, in and of themselves, did not remind me that running is supposed to be fun. Cows alone do not impart wisdom beyond measure. But the act of noticing, of keeping my eye wandering, of longing for the the view around the next bend, allowed me to catch them in my peripheral. And I stopped and I smiled. And I took photos. I thought about taking them home with me, but I wondered if someone had left them there by accident and was now retracing their steps looking for them. Some imaginary children kept me from carrying them home.

I like to think those imaginary children left them there to make me smile. As a reminder to take a breath, look around, see and enjoy.

The Get Tos are for fun.