Half-way point

I look down at my newest pair of running shoes. Bright turquoise with yellow slashes that scream speed. The shoes look fast, but I am not. I am slow and tentative as I walk/run around a very small local pond. Last year this was a quick easy four mile outing for me. Now I leave plenty of time to complete the circuit, and strive to enjoy the ability to slowly insert some easy running into my walking. Recovering from an injury is a bitch. I have to keep reminding myself to listen to my body and not push too hard. This is a hard lesson, and one I have clearly had trouble learning. Two stress fractures, one torn calf muscle, and finally a fractured hip. All injuries representing a sad inability of knowing how to listen to myself. Unfortunately, it is not just my body I have trouble listening to. I also seem to have trouble listening to my own thoughts, even when they are repeatedly coming out of my own mouth.
Two months ago I registered for an intensive eight day writing seminar. I dithered about registering. It seemed like a big commitment, and a possibly daunting experience. I thought I could learn from the new environment, but I felt anxious about this huge step into unknown territory.
I hoped if I committed myself to the action of attending that I would be able to force myself to attend. Like running a race, I assumed that if I got to the starting line and everyone started moving, that I would move too. But that’s not how it turned out. This is not a story of victory over adversity. It is not a story of perseverance against challenging odds. It is more a story of falling without a net. Sometimes, it is just not possible to reach a goal at a particular moment, even if you are determined.
Like running on a fractured hip; you can be determined; but ultimately, eventually, the pain will stop you from moving forward. Going off to a challenging and unusual environment can become impossible, even despite determination, due to the pain of social insecurity. I watched the other runners who were out on the trail this morning. Most were wearing bold “I can do it” shoes, and bright “look at me” running clothes. There was no way to tell who was recovering from an injury. I couldn’t see which runners were trying to focus on their own internal physical messages so as not to suffer another running setback.
I look at other people throughout my daily life, and I also can’t tell which ones are working to decipher the internal messages from their psyches; the messages that tell them when they should stretch themselves to grow and when they should accept where they are.
For several weeks, I spoke about this intensive writing seminar to anyone who would listen to me, but I never listened to myself. Like my previously ignored throbbing hip, I paid no attention to the clear vocalizations of my emotional self. I knew that the course would be a giant leap outside of my comfort zone with no safety net, but I kept convincing myself that if I lined up at the cliff, that I would be able to jump. I’m sad to say I got to the start of that class; I stood on that cliff, and I turned around and came home. I spent three days feeling humiliated, feeling mortified, feeling angry. I was harder on myself than I ever would have been on any other person.
Today I walked and jogged around the pond, and I feel better. I pursued a reachable goal. We admire the stories of heroes and those who strive and achieve great accomplishments. But I bet they all had failures along the way. Maybe some of these future achievers were outside this morning; carefully running in their bold shoes and internally checking their ability to move forward. Sometimes small slow steps are necessary before full speed can be obtained. And sometimes our moments of seeming failures are really half-way points to some other achievement.

Leave a Comment