Anxiety and fear, they can be gripping. They cause a weight that makes the act of getting up off the couch an act of force and willpower that is hard to muster. My day started with worry for someone I love very much. Then it shifted to frustration at an unfair world. Then it shifted to self-punishment for feeling the world is so unjust when I have so much. Then it just felt lonely. Not a loneliness that is cured by the temporary visit of someone who loves you and who you love. A loneliness that grips you. A loneliness that responds to the question, “why do you feel anxious?” with a curt “because the fluid around my brain leaks out of my nose.” Or a more ambiguous, “because I am in chronic pain,” or perhaps “I feel unlucky.” Of course I never utter that out loud. It is too painful, almost too ridiculous. I am quite lucky, I have love, I have family, I have a beautiful home with a yard to play catch with my dogs. Not to say I can’t feel things aside from gratitude, but it often feels like I feel too much. Overcoming is the name of the game, or is it defeat? I’m not really sure anymore how I am supposed to act, how I am acting, or what is what. I feel inadequate as a super hero inspiration, and feel simultaneously frustrated at the insinuation that I cannot take care of myself. I don’t want to be weak, but I don’t really want to be strong – when I don’t feel so strong, that is.
Then again, maybe I am strong. Maybe I’m downright badass.
So, rather than resign myself to days on the couch feeling inadequate about what little work I’ve accomplished, I run. Literally, I run. Yesterday on a treadmill I ran fast and hard, not for long but made a mile. Today I ran in the heat, until it hurt, then I slowed, then I kept running. If you run until it hurts, maybe the things that felt like pain won’t loom so large.
The red points on the map are the points where my beating heart and head begged me to stop, to catch my breath, to wipe the spinal fluid off my face, and swallow what dripped silently down my throat. The orange points are the points where I resolved to keep going, slowly but with all the power I could muster. The green were the moments I felt the leaves move in the slight, quiet breeze and felt my loved ones, here and gone, pushing me forward. The red again, a stop, a pause in time, a “pause in the workout,” as my app tells me, my hands clasped tightly to my sweaty head, wishing for a moment that anyone, anyone at all who loved me would find me in this moment and know exactly what to say or do, even when I didn’t know what that was. They were moments where I wanted rescue. Those moments end with a recogniztion that I must rescue myself, so I pick myself up and urge my legs forward, moving from my hips to elongate my stride. Then back to green, where I stand up in perfect runners form, knowing no one can pick me up but me, and I summon my will and my strength and I keep going despite the mental and physical pain. And for a moment, as the map lights up green, there is freedom, there is just me and the road, pounding at each other, pounding out life’s problems, running until it hurts and then running until it feels like nothings left. And when it feels like there is nothing is left, there we find gratitude.
I am grateful for the life I have, the love I have, and I am grateful to try, at least for those moments where life feels free, to try to overcome. Perhaps in running until it hurts, I can bring myself back to the present, back to this moment, back from whatever land of fear and anxiety that has taken so much of my energy.
Peace and Love,