“Go as far as you can see and then you will see farther.”

I like that quote. It speaks to me on several different levels.

To paraphrase, go as far as you can go. And when you get there, what do you find? Do you find that what you thought was all you could do wasn’t all you could do? Or do you find new horizons, new opportunities?

What are our limits? What are we capable of mentally? What are our emotional limits? And from an athlete’s perspective, what are our physical limits?

I’m going to go way off on a tangent here. I find that when we attempt to console someone that is going through a tough time emotionally, maybe it is a moment of extreme grief, that our words mean very little. My opinion is that our presence, our friendship is what helps someone the most.

“I know what you’re going through.” No, you really don’t. And if it is the loss of a loved one, I’m not going to tell you “with time, you’ll get over it.” No, you’re not. You are not going to get over it and it’s not going to get easy because you can never really get completely over the loss of someone you love.

But it does get easier. And you will be fine. Just not today. And probably not tomorrow. Maybe that’s too dark for this space but I’ve seen extreme grief over the loss of a game so maybe it does belong. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more tears shed than in the NCAA basketball tournament this year. Lose your last game and turn on the tears.

You’ve put all you had into a game and it didn’t end the way you had dreamed. The only people that can really help you at that point are your teammates. The people that you have trained and worked with for so long. They know. They get what you’re going through because they shared your dreams and your heartbreak.

We really have no idea what our physical limits are. I’ve been near the top of a tough climb on my bicycle and wasn’t sure that I could even get there. But then I get there and I find that I have a little bit more. That I’m ready to take on the next hill.

We ask this sort of thing from our athletes all the time. A pitcher is doing their best and we ask them to dig a little deeper and come up with just a little more. A runner is exhausted but the finish line isn’t close and we ask them to find something within themselves to finish the race.

Go as hard as you can go and then see if you have a little more. A few more lifts. A few more sprints. A little farther. A little faster. A little harder. Work as hard as you can work, and then work a little harder. Athletic excellence is the product of that attitude.

Some of you know my personal story. Underachiever. Never encouraged academically. Most kids where I’m from were glad to graduate from high school and get a job. I got there and saw another horizon.

I get to college and there are horizons all around me. People from lots of backgrounds exceeding boundaries every day. I graduate from college and I find new horizons out there, new opportunities.

I get out into the real world and find a bigger and bigger world. Opportunities everywhere if you just look and then have the fortitude to chase those opportunities. A life without boundaries. I’m personal testimony to all that. All because I got to the horizon and found more.

When you go as far as you can see, all the way to the horizon, you see another horizon. Go chase that one.

Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Email joeblackdpt@gmail.com to write to him.

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