when a run goes bad.
Today’s run was poopy. Every step I took felt like work. I had dry mouth two miles in. My ankles kept cracking. I was extremely hot. My breathing was labored. My rubberband broke, leaving my hair flying everywhere. After going out to my car and getting another rubberband, I tried to set the new pace again. I was so disappointed with how this sacred running time had manifested itself. I tried to concentrate on acceptance, embrace what it was and let go of what I expected and wished it would be.
I reflect on that ideal run—where I feel so strong—where I am mentally focused, and I idealize that run. I compare today’s run, and yesterday’s run, and last week’s run, to that glorious, fantasized run of yesteryear. I just want to get back to then.
For the last several weeks I’ve met with some girlfriends to discuss what it means to “choose joy” in our everyday life. Part of choosing joy (for me) is accepting. Accepting today and being in this moment, allowing my senses to feel right now the smooth satin sheets pressed against my calves.
My new friend Catherine lost her firstborn, a son, after he was born at 28 weeks gestation. Then she became pregnant with her daughter, and, spending the last several months of pregnancy on full bedrest in the hospital, birthed her premature (but alive), and raised her with love. Then just over six months ago this little girl, 3 years-old, was tragically killed in a car accident. A mother who has lost two babies.
We sit in a circle talking about “choosing joy” and Catherine smiles. And I see before me someone who should, in no way, have any joy whatsoever. But she does. She says that God has used it to bring her back to Him. I asked myself, “Could I ever do that? Could I choose joy if I was Catherine?” Then I thought, “I’m such a pansie. What is my complaint?”
Oh to be dissatisfied with a run when there are people with no legs on which to walk. To balk at the slightly-too-salty mashed potatoes when there are children in this world with distended bellies, dying of hunger related diseases every day. That I gripe when we’ve run out of ice, and that my pillow is going flat, that my child woke me up in the middle of the night, and that the mango was not ripe. I set out to focus my time and energy and thoughts on what I DO have and what I DO know. Not what I don’t. This is an exercise worth cultivating.
Veering from grumpy, I swirled my thumb on my ipod over to One Republic’s Good Life. I told myself that today I would run slow, that my ankles needed the exercise. I listened to the air rushing into my lungs and felt my chest rise. I noticed the monarch butterfly eight feet ahead of me and decided the sun on my face was God’s smiling. I thought how nice it was to be alive, and what a gift that I was running sans children, and how nice the lukewarm water felt on my parched tongue. I thought about my mom (today is her birthday) and how she cared for my every need, and how I’m alive today and have fullness in my life because she gave so sacrificially. I considered the clouds, the beauty of the trees, and a God who invites me in, who created me in His World for His glory, and I felt happy.
I took joy . . . I ran with it.