Without running, I would have missed the joy of rain. What could be considered an inconvenience or a bummer to the inexperienced is actually a gift. Without running, I would miss a lot of things-like seeing cities in a certain way, or knowing certain people all the way to the core. I'm glad we don't experience life through glass, under cover, or from the sidelines. Good things take miles.
I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful - for all of it.
Every mile marker can be met with some measure of trepidation, in a race or in life. Am I on target? Do I have what it takes to finish strong? Am I taking care to stay nourished so I can endure? Is my training proving to be sufficient? Am I prepared for the hills? It is impossible to fathom the full distance, so we make our way to the next mile marker, and the next, checking in with ourselves as we go.
I find significance in all kinds of small details when I run; I'm hyper aware of my surroundings, the sensations in my body, and the thoughts running through my mind. Everything is clearer, heightened. I might be more addicted to this clarity than I am to running itself.
I think, as most of us do, I put such high expectations on myself that this spills over onto other people. And not everyone is wired this way. Some people can shrug expectations off their shoulders like a cardigan, remaining cool and breezy. Others wear them like a parka with a stuck zipper, hot and stifling.
I avoid the carwash when I think it might rain anytime in the near future, which means I drive around the majority of the time in a pollen and bird poop covered car. This presents a stand off between Neat Freakshow and Practical Pennypincher, and Neat Freak usually triumphs. And then it rains.
We postpone the finality of heartbreak by clinging to hope. Though this might be acceptable during early or transitional stages of grief, ultimately it is no way to live. We need both hands free to embrace life and accept love, and that's impossible if one hand has a death grip on the past.
It truly is a little intimidating to go speak at a middle school. Sure, on one hand the kids are only around 13 years old, but on the other hand, merely going back there reactivates the dorky, miserable feeling of being that age again. It isn't easy. As soon as I arrived I could almost feel the braces on my teeth, the don't-look-at-me slouch of my shoulders, the feathered wings of my bangs.
The time I spend in the morning - praying, sipping coffee, and coming up with my list - is a ritual I relish. I have done it for so long now that I subconsciously measure whether or not the things I'm doing match with what I should be doing, what I want to be doing, and the life I want to live.
I think I get used to, even addicted to, the feelings associated with the end of a long training run. I love feeling empty, clean, worn out, starving, and sweat-purged. I love the good ache of muscles that have done me proud. I love the way a cold beer tastes later that afternoon. I love the way my body feels light and sinewy.
As I get older I see that running has changed for me. What used to be about burning calories is now more about burning up what is false. Lies I used to tell myself about who I was and what I could do, friendships that cannot withstand hills or miles, the approval I no longer need to seek, and solidarity that cannot bear silence. I run to burn up what I don't need and ignite what I do.
Do the things you used to talk about doing but never did. Know when to let go and when to hold on tight. Stop rushing. Don't be intimidated to say it like it is. Stop apologizing all the time. Learn to say no, so your yes has some oomph. Spend time with the friends who lift you up, and cut loose the ones who bring you down. Stop giving your power away. Be more concerned with being interested than being interesting. Be old enough to appreciate your freedom, and young enough to enjoy it. Finally know who you are.