For the past year I’ve been running, and the entire time I’ve been telling myself I am running towards something: towards a PR (personal record), towards a particular goal, towards an athletic achievement, towards a state of body acceptance. I have completely embraced running as a hobby and am proud to say that I have run a 5k, an 8k, a 10k…even a half marathon! I am truly amazed at my progress, and incredibly proud of myself for these accomplishments.
I was thinking about all of this last week when I was debating about committing to a second half marathon. I said I wouldn’t do one again for a while, but a few factors influenced me in the opposite direction.
Then I started pondering the deeper meaning of all of this running I’ve been doing. I climbed into that little cave in my mind where I tend to overanalyze. Man, I can stay in there for hours, feeding on worries and fears, breathing in the murky fog and breathing out light so that when I finally come out, there is a clarity that makes my world look a little different. I must have explored every corner of that cave last week. Following are a few notes that came to me while I was in there.
Quality time with friends. Though I go out often enough, I have a set of friends who I wouldn’t see nearly enough if it wasn’t for running. This is the group of friends who used to drag me into drinking games in our twenties (Ok fine, they didn’t have to pull that hard.). Many of them have decreased their social time, so it is with great pleasure that I get to spend my Saturday mornings sojourning with these people for a few hours.
Running away from confrontation. I admit, I keep myself very busy, so much so that many of my friends/family have commented on it. They ask me how I get my “me time.” They accuse me of using my social life and hobbies to avoid something deeper that is going on inside me. You know what? Sometimes, in order to avoid staying home and being fully occupied by my worries and fears, I go out.
I run. I hike.
I salsa dance. I belly dance.
I need a healthy distraction—what’s so bad about that? True, I over-commit. I had my first “date with Becky” last night, which was the first I’d had in months. But I think there is something my concerned brethren isn’t realizing. There is so much catharsis in these activities. Anyone who has ever been immersed in a dance or a sport so much that they completely free their mind knows what I’m talking about. It happens every time I attend a belly dance class. Does that happen to you?
Society. I feel as though I am running, no, sprinting AWAY from society’s standards at this point in my life. Why is it that when we point our lives in the direction of this supposedly-desired end result, we feel so incredibly awful if the situation doesn’t play out like it’s supposed to? I get so frustrated when I look at my life, impressed with what I have accomplished and the goals that I have set for myself, and then a person, media outlet, or simply my fear turns on a 120-watt light bulb so that I am certain to see what I don’t have: a husband, children, a high-paying job, a nicer car, lots of material things. And then I feel like crap, and have to start the process of feeling good about myself all over again. What is the point of striving for societal standards anyway? Seriously! I really think that all they do is set us up to reach for ideals that may or may not be what we are destined for, and there is no built-in security net, no automatic back-up system that we can reset to if something should happen.
This morning I received an automated email from a website I am subscribed to. If you haven’t already, you should take a look at Sex, Love, Liberation. It’s focused on sexual liberation, but it’s about so much more than that. I don’t always agree or even enjoy the posts that Ev`Yan sends out, but most of the time, her words touch me in some way. Following is a snippet of today’s email.
This journey of self-discovery that you are on is a hard one. It involves strength, trust, & complete vulnerability — a wicked combination.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t have all the answers right now. Don’t be discouraged by the rate of your progress or the slowness of getting to the bottom of your core wounding.
The road to liberation (sexual, spiritual, or otherwise) is not paved in gold. It’s a mess of overgrown foliage, dark, murky caverns, & muddy paths.
All of that chaos & confusion is necessary for your growth. Even hardships & negativity serve your liberation. Ev`Yan Nasman, http://sexloveliberation.com/
You know what I’m going to say. I cannot hear this message enough. I urge you to read it and realize that while you and I have a ways to go in our journeys, the reality is that we’ve already accomplished several PRAs (Personal Records of Awesomeness) during our existence on this earth, and for that we should be extremely proud. If you feel so led, share in the comments section one PRA that you’ve accomplished. I want you to BRAG and feel incredible about doing it. Thank you in advance for sharing.