For the last few months I have been running two miles a day, every weekday morning. Running has been a frequent activity in my life since high school days as a middle-distance runner on the track team. I have been very inconsistent with running throughout adulthood, but I have never cut it out of my life completely.
Now that I am older, the running often feels harder. Some days I really have to push myself. But I do it because it instills in me the kind of discipline which spills over into my daily writing schedule. I do it to hold myself accountable. Recently, I had a rough run. It was awful. I argued with myself the whole way. The best part of that awful run was, as much as I wanted to, I didn’t give up and cut the run short. The second best part was opening my Macbook immediately after the run, all sweaty and winded, to write down everything that was going on in my head on that run.
I have to pee.
Right. Of course, you do.
No really, I think I should stop.
You just started, you haven’t even completed the first lap.
Yeah, I know. Let me just go and I’ll come back and start over again.
Ugh. And now it’s starting to rain. The app said it was only supposed to be cloudy this morning, cloudy for at least another two hours before any real rain.
Calm down. It’s just misting.
Yeah, but it’s misting heavier now.
Fuck. I don’t know. It’s raining and I have to pee. Why is this happening? I did a meditation before I started just to avoid all this mind ramble. This run feels harder. I feel all over the place. I should have brought a jacket.
I see her, you know. I still see her.
I know you do. Focus.
She keeps coming back to me. Fuck. I don’t want to see her. I’m better now. I’m supposed to be better.
It’s okay. You’re okay.
It’s so big and crowded in this fuckin world and nobody really cares about you. It’s all so much bullshit. I don’t know, I don’t know if I can make it today. So many laps to go. Damn.
I see what you’re doing.
I can still see her, you know. Her heart still beats with my heart. She’s lost, she’s scared, she’s all alone. This is hard, you know. Why doesn’t this get easier? Why must the wounded wondering keep coming back? I’m doing everything that I’m supposed to. I should just stop.
I see what you’re doing there. Cut it out. Focus.
I’m always going to be her.
You want to cry, yes? You’re dreaming about that sweet spot, yes? That corner you’re gonna crawl into when this run is over so you can cry your little heart out? Hungry for a good cry? Is that what this is about?
This is not a good run. I’m not having a good run today. I feel heavy. Slower. What if I pee on myself. I should stop.
And when you’re done crying, then what? And if you cut the run short, how will you feel?
Shit. I don’t know. I might not make it today. I’ll try again tomorrow.
You feel that? You feel that burn? Stoke it, you hear me? It’s called fire in the belly. It comes from pain, and from hurt, and from wounds, and from fuckin heartbreak—and it makes you want to fight. Fight for your life. Fight for her! I know you see her, so fight for her. Catch that fire in your sights and you grab a hold of yourself and you blow on that little fire, you hear me? You’ve been here before. You fan those flames and you let them roar, you hear me? Fight!
But …. wait …. my legs hurt, I don’t know …..
Fight fight fight! Kick those legs, kick! Stop looking for easy and stop chasing Perfection. So you’ve run on sunny days with an empty bladder. So what? Hills and valleys, ups and downs, that’s the story of life. Conditions can’t always be perfect. Today you have a cloudy day, a full bladder and a whiney mind. Comfort is not your friend, so stop trying to lean into her. You will keep moving. You can rest when you die. As long as you are breathing, look for the challenges, face the bumps and the hiccups. Stop searching for the smooth and the easy ways, nothing inspiring comes from those ways. You have betrothed yourself to this journey, there is no going back ever again. If you dare try to shrink, if you dare try to hide, as you live and breathe, I guarantee, the demons will smell your fear and they will come sniffing for your sweaty cracks and they will find you. And when they find you they will reveal her to you, remind you of your shared heartbeat, plant cascading visions of all her painful moments smack dab, centered in your frontal lobe. Of course, you see her. You will always see her. You, crying for her all these years later makes no difference. You know what you can do for her? Blow on that little flame until it ROARS! And you take back your life once again. And you get back on track, do your work. Then, you get to breathe easy again for a little while. But also, you must suit back up and be ready to fight all over again. This is the way of all our lives. Fall down, get your ass kicked sometimes, get up, harness your wild thoughts, and BRING THE FIRE. Because Comfort is not the life you signed up for. And Perfection is a dark and cunning figment of your imagination, so stop reaching for it.
*huffing * panting * huffing*
Look at that. You did it again. Another two-mile run completed. Was that so hard?
Yes, it was.
And look at that, the sun is trying to come out now. How cool is that?
Weird. And I don’t feel like I have to pee anymore. That’s crazy.
The Universe conspires on our behalf. AND! It has a sense of humor.
Ha. Not funny.
This post is a reminder to myself that no matter how much work I put in, no matter how far I go, no matter what kind of success I find, I will always be the Maria of bygone days. Sure, I will journey to new places, acquire the wisdom of new experiences, become a better version of who I used to be, but I will always be her. And I am good with this …. most of the time. Other times, when I am reminded of my weaknesses and vulnerabilities (ugh!), not so much.
Do I enjoy pain? No, no one does. But some days, like it or not, pain may come. It may be triggered or it may happen in real-time, but there will be no circumventing it when it’s time. I made that run harder than it needed to be because I was trying to avoid what I felt like a tough run. And I fell into a pain spiral—full bladder, visions of me as a helpless girl, rainy day. Hard things are made harder when we fight against having the experience rather than just moving through it as best we can.
Now if I can just remember that for the next time 😉