Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Plunge Into the Sublime Seas

 "Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Running allows me to release a lot of the demons that sometimes possess my soul. But some demons are very tenacious. And so I will work this year to release these remaining demons that often return with me even after trying to outrun them, pound them out, sweat them out, or release them into the wind.
My two most tenacious demons are self-doubt and guilt.  
When I am running I forget about these insidious creatures. More often then not, I am entirely tuned into the moment, not the past or the future. I rarely question my ability to finish a long run while I'm in the midst of it. I don't question why I'm doing it. I don't feel guilty for taking this time for myself. I'm okay with it all. This is what I would call happiness - Eudaimonia - a deep satisfaction that I'm doing what I should be doing at that moment.  
In those moments of awareness and contentment I feel that I have plunged into the sublime sea.
And then I get home. I look at the clock. Oy. I've been gone that long? I immediately feel I've taken too much time for myself. I feel guilty. I assume everything my husband says, every facial expression that he makes, reflects a tiny bit of annoyance. Oh, he puts up with it, I tell myself, but he's not happy about it. He assures me that he is not upset. I don't believe him. Not for a second. I tell myself that I deserve this time, but I don't buy it. I don't believe myself.
Why? Well I think it's rooted in self-doubt - and it's a vicious circle. I mean, how can I justify all the time I spend running? I'm not very good. I'm not very fast. I don't do heroic things. And, I'm certainly not making any money with all this time spent running and running and running. In fact this isn't just a waste of time it's a waste of precious money that could be spent better elsewhere. All those running shoes! All those entry fees! And let's not even talk about all the physical therapy that is required to keep this ol' gal on the road. So, I've been asking myself this 'how can I?' question for years and years - and while I have answers, they still don't silence the guilt and self-doubt that rears it's ugly, defensive, combative head when I walk in the door after a run. 
What's my bloody problem? I don't think I'm alone on this, though I think: a) Women are more prone to it, and b) we each have our individual demons/issues to deal with.
So here's the problem - I'm looking for someone else to tell me that it's okay, that I'm not wasting my time. That I'm not a sucky runner, or a sucky writer, or a sucky climber, or a sucky mother, or wife, or teacher... for all those things are so important to my existence and my identity. But it wouldn't matter if everyone I knew told me how awesome and brilliant I am, I would never believe them. 
It is up to me, and me alone, to face this demon which has been with me since childhood. I will choose to plunge into the sublime sea, and return with new power and self-respect. I think I can explain the old, but now I need to create the new.
Now, I am going for a nice long run, and I will not feel the least bit guilty about it!


  1. You are NOT wasting your time. You inspire others, so in that way you are doing heroic things. Thanks for writing this--it spoke to my soul.

  2. Loved the post! Running calms my demons for sure. Being fitter enables me to be better to others--to help my mom carry stuff, or to take a walk with my dad, or chase after my niece. Plus by taking care of my health, I am caring for them too, indirectly. I never regret running, except for the time conflicts that sometimes crop up. ("No more marathons on my birthday!" says my husband. Oops...)

  3. This is how I feel almost every time that I run. STill a demon I have to fight I guess:(

    1. Lauren, I have been working on this. More than a year later a lot of this has changed. I'm working on an update/follow up post. I hope you will read it. This demon can be beat!!!


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