“I was complaining that I had no shoes till I met a man who had no feet.” ~ ConfuciusWe are always changing. We are never the "same" person when we go to bed as we were when we woke that morning. But some things accelerate change. Some things change us even against our will. The outcome depends greatly on our attitude about the whole thing.
As so many of my friends and athletes head off to Boston, alarms keep pinging me, sending helpful reminders that I have a Southwest flight to Logan Airport leaving shortly. And yet, here I am, sitting in my living-room, typing. That seat was cancelled several weeks ago, but the alarms never got the memo.
I've been here once before when I hurt myself shortly before Boston 2013. But both cases could not be more different.
I see the smiles and excitement. I've felt that too.
I hear about the nervous energy. I've felt that too.
I hear about the weather angst. Yeah, that I've felt all too often.
One of the gifts running (or any hard challenge) brings is big emotions - some we enjoy and others we are less comfortable with - but it's all big, and raw and inescapable.
It's called, feeling alive! I've felt that, too.
In 2013 I admit that I had a big case of "feeling sorry for myself" syndrome. I moaned and complained and cried and cursed the running gods and cursed myself for my idiotic ways and hated myself and wanted to hide under a rock. I cried and cried and cried because I couldn't run Boston.
Well, perspective changes everything, and it sure as hell, has changed me.
What a freaking whiner.
What a spoiled baby, I think now.
And this year I have already shed tears. Some tears come from the same place and others come from much deeper within. I have little doubt that more will come.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ~ Ralph Waldo EmersonSo now things have changed. Some things force themselves on you whether you like it or not. They change your worldview. We can't know things if we don't know them though we may think we know them, or "understand", we do not. For most of us that "knowing" involves a direct experience. So many claim to "understand" things they, quite honestly, can't understand because they have not experienced it. You can *try* to put yourself in someone elses shoes, but nothing can ever compare to those shoes being your shoes. I find myself time and again wishing to wake from this nightmare that seems to make no sense. How could this happen? How could this happen to me? Well, things happen to people, even me. Even you. I may have done nothing whatsoever to "deserve" this, but here I am.
I have a friend/former athlete who is going through something very similiar:
No known cause.
No known risk factors.
And she recently said to me "You and I are the healthiest sick people".
And that's how it feels - like someone is playing a cruel trick on us and all we can do is hope and pray that we recover. But we can do nothing else. We can only have faith and then try to appreciate the things we do have now.
If you are paying attention, and IF you survive the big lessons, then you emerge with greater understanding, an expanding range of emotions, a perspective that can only be gained through hard times and battles.
If I come out of this, if I can even attempt to live as I now wish to live, then I will thank my lucky stars for this experience. Right now I'm not there yet, and I know that I may never actually return to that place I miss and took for granted.
“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” ~ Maya AngelouNot that long ago as my husband and I were fretting or fighting over something I already recognized as stupid and insubstantial in the grand scheme of things, I said to him:
"You know, things will not always be this good. There will come a time when we will look on these worries and concerns as a silly waste of stress. I wish we could understand that now."
And like a bad Hallmark movie, it all comes true. Poof.
Let's see how they handle really scary and difficult stuff, giggle the Fates.
And so life takes a dramatic turn. Some close to me try to hold on to what was, but that is gone forever. Either join me where I am now, or stay behind, but I can no longer be that person.
Things do not and cannot remain the same. There is no such thing as "same". You really cannot step in the "same" river twice (Thank you, Heraclitus). Many desperately try to make life the same all the time and this is where the attempt to avoid pain and fear and change undermines real living. At least that's how I see it. Yes, I want to wake from this nightmare. I want to understand the WHY here. But there is no why to discover. I will create the why.
I will confess that I have little patience for whining about things that I now believe to be trivial. Yet I also fully recognize that I too whined about stupid shit. At least it feels stupid now. I would give anything now to have the luxury of whining about the things that mattered before. I whined about missing Boston 2013 because I had a torn ligament. Oh my god, if only I had that concern now! I've whined about the weather. I've whined about it all - so please understand that I am not "judging" that - that's normal. I would trade in a second. I am not saying that my perspective is now "better" but it is different.
To all those out there doing the things they set out to do, remember that you GET to do these things. If you are not enjoying it then why do it? And, if you are enjoying it then why are you whining?
I usually don't pay attention to most signs at races, but one hit home some time ago:
"One day you won't be able to do this. Today is not that day"
That sign has always brought me to gratitude, even if I felt like hell - and no matter what it is that you can do today, there will come a day that you can't do it. And while this is a depressing thought and not one we need to live with constantly, it is important to recognize.
Yes, this has been a bit of a ramble. That is the state of my mind presently. And as I wrap this up, I am dinged once again. My flight leaves in one hour. But, the snow has now stopped and the robins have begun to sing. I am grateful for that.