Friday, March 9, 2012

Driving at Night with the Headlights On

I have decided to take up running again. Specifically, I have set a goal of running (or probably more realistically jogging) a 5k in April. It's 6 weeks away and I have started following a Couch to 5k workout program. After looking through the workouts, I decided that I wasn't quite starting from the "couch" category so I decided to begin with the workouts for week 4. The workouts at this stage alternate between a fast walk and a jog with a beep indicating when you should switch your pace. I completed the first workout today.


As the final jog interval began, I faced a choice - to the right was the easier path and to the left was the hill. It might as well have been a mountain, given the fact that I haven't run hills for a very long time (probably going back college). Something inside me demanded that I take the hilly path to the left. Maybe it was the fact that I already feel like my life is on the hilly path, so why not. Maybe it was simply my desire for a challenge. Either way, once I was on it, I was there and turning back just didn't seem like an option.

For the first 30 seconds or so I felt great. Then I slowly started to feel the burn in my legs. And my breathing became heavier. And I kept staring up that hill. The top seemed so far away. What came to my mind in that moment was something I had read awhile ago.

Anne Lamott offers the following musing in one of her books (with my brain as mushy as it is these days I just can't remember which one)..."The great novelist E.L. Doctorow once said that writing a novel is like driving at night with the headlights on: You can only see a little ways in front of you, but you can make the whole journey this way. It is the truest of all things; the only way to write a book, raise a child, save the world." 

I would add to the end "run a 5k" and "continue moving after a loss". And on this day I would add "run up a hill". As I started to look only just in front of me, jogging up the hill became easier. Concentrating on the next step and then the next step and then the next step allowed me to move forward without getting caught up in the immensity of the whole task.

Before I knew it, there was the beep. But I wasn't at the top of the hill yet. So I kept jogging. And jogging. When I reached the top I transitioned to my brisk walk with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. It was a great feeling and I think a good lesson for me as I struggle through the pain of loss, the difficult rhythms of a busy work life, and the challenges of being a single mom.

"You can only see a little ways in front of you, but you can make the whole journey this way."

11 comments:

  1. Excellent post. I felt like I was on the run with you. I like the way you figured out how to "climb" that hill. One time when I was overwhelmed at work, my desk was piled high, a co-worker gave me a good piece of advice.
    He asked me if I knew how to eat an elephant. Of course I said that I didn't.
    His response: "one bite at a time."

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    1. Great advice. Plus, it made me laugh so that's an added benefit!

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  2. Great post! Your run inspired me to consider doing a run this weekend. That's inspiration! I read your mother in law's blog, and am familiar with the loss of your husband. May I offer my deepest sympathy. Lynda and I share the commonality of losing a son.
    I love your mention of Annie Lamott, love her! They're right. The only way to get thru is one step at a time. I was just commenting on Lynda's site earlier, that I was told after the loss of my son, to "just breathe, breathe in, breathe out".
    Again, great post!

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    1. Holly, thanks for popping over to my blog. I'm glad that you found some inspiration to do your own run - hope it left you feeling like you conquered something! I'm sure Lynda (Mom, to me!) has valued your support and insight given your common loss. I always think of Finding Nemo with the line "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

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  3. Wonderful quote. I'm going to think on it a bit more and how it applies in my life (and I'm also going to get myself an Anne Lamott book!).

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    1. Thanks for responding...Grace Eventually is one of my favorites by her (I've read it several times), but really you will find wonderful nuggets of wisdom in anything of hers.

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  4. I have always valued this quote (and Anne Lamott is right up there in my "must read anything she writes" category). Your description of the run and your focus on forward motion remind me that life is short and everything changes. What is there to see ahead in the beams of the headlights? I am nothing if not curious. Thanks for writing and posting

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    1. I know what you mean - I am always curious about what lies ahead, but I have found (especially recently) that sometimes it's a good thing to not know all the details. Life is funny like that and most times we just have to enjoy it as it happens and roll with the punches. Thanks for your encouragement!

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  5. I am not finding a Follow Me link here - I want to get your blog on my daily update list so that I don't miss it. Possible to add that link?

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    1. I'm new at this, so I apologize for not having it up sooner, but I think I figured it out. It looks like the "Follow" box is there now. Thanks for checking out my blog!

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