Sunday, October 13, 2013

Running: Reframing the Race to Nowhere

Finish lines--with all of their terminal fanfare--are the journey seen through its fruition.

Blisters and all.

A race against ourselves and a test of personal limits.

I haven't met anyone who crossed one who wished to reverse their footing behind that great balloon arch.

For most of my life, running was nothing short of torture.

Maybe it was the pulsating knifelike pain thrusting under my ribs every time I sucked in wind to run around the block as a kid.

Or the way my clunky legs failed me during impromptu games of street tag.

It seemed that everyone else was faster and more elusive.
I was painfully slow.
And forever "it".

But perhaps it was simply the exhausting notion that many of us internalize at such a tender age:  we need to run from something.

For some, our entire lives are carved out of running from painful truths or from the specters of who we once were.  We run miles to escape those painful emotional epicenters and to escape those who have wronged us.

A lifetime of fight or flight.
A lifetime of dodging.
A lifetime of devaluing oneself.

We often run from our imperfect selves, our regrets, our trauma, our sorrow.
A cruel race that somehow renders us motionless.
A perpetual slam into proverbial dead-ends.

Most of my life, I ran that race to nowhere.
I wanted off the course.

A few years ago, I began to reframe my thinking and asked myself:  what if I stopped running from something and started to run to something?

That torch needed to be passed.

Last year, my dear friend Michele and I dared each other to do something out of our individual comfort zones.

I dared her to wear a pair of high-heeled fur boots.
She dared me to go camping. Or run a half-marathon.

I chose 13.1 miles.
Somehow it seemed more palatable than pitching a tent and wearing some horrific hiking boots.

By the third week of training, I had wondered if I should have let the bears devour me instead.
One afternoon, I drove 13.1 miles and threw up.
No way, no how.
Who the hell enjoys this?

In order to get through this alive, I knew that I needed to make this more of a spiritual journey than a grueling physical one.

So I wrote down "the thirteen".

Each of those thirteen miles became dedicated to something that I would surrender, whether it was something that once destroyed me, a self-deprecating mantra that I replayed in my head, a person I needed to finally forgive, the little girl inside of me whose reflection I once dreaded.

The thirteen--all with their own demarcated mile. Thirteen crosses I finally let go.  As I hurled each and every one to the curb, my eyes looked exclusively forward for the first time in my life.

No looking back.
Run to and not from.

I never trembled with more life than I did that crisp October afternoon.

After hitting that thirteenth mile, my knees buckled under the sweet mix of surrender and personal victory.

Like the last sip of a richly smooth cup of morning coffee, I relished that final tenth of a mile.
I realized that in order to move forward, I simply needed to sever those binding ties.

There comes a point when you have to stop surviving and start living for those beautiful miles that await.

My choice to run to something--and not from it--made all the difference.

Breathless, I ran directly into the outstretched arms of my husband and sons, allowing them to swallow me whole.

You just know you're home when you get there.

Finish Line Chic:  Jimmy-Choo cheetah-print cap-toe pump.