Discover more from Unacceptable Jessica
I don't love running, but running loves me
A story to share about today
“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most. – Abraham Lincoln.”
Today I decided to go running. I had missed a couple days having fallen into the addicted-to-it phase of my latest running fad. Running and I have about a 20-year love-hate, on-off relationship. I don’t run to be fast or to compete. I do it ultimately because of what it does for me, both physically and mentally. As soon as I am able to slough off the first 10 minutes of ‘Ugh, why am I doing this’, I find myself able to connect to the feeling of my body moving; finding a rhythm and sometimes, meditating on things that have fallen into the ‘unsolved problems’ file of my brain. Today was one of those days.
I left my home today knowing I was going to get satched. The sky had become that gorgeous grey/blue dark color that it becomes when mother nature is ready to let out some of her much needed energetic frustration in the form of wind and rain. The wind picked up the second I left and just a few pellets of cold, cold rain were starting to fall.
I thought: I feel ridiculous. I feel under-dressed. I feel my shoes are going to get soaked. I feel cold. This is stupid.
Keep walking to the start point (the point where I start running), I thought.
I got to the start point and started to run and immediately felt the sting of the cold rain hitting my face, my shoulders, my arms and my legs. The wind was really strong, and I could see the ominous dark storm very quickly rolling in ahead of me. My runs are circular and only about 5 km long, but I knew this one was going to feel longer. The puddles were starting to get bigger as the rain got even heavier. And bloody cold too! My shoes were starting to get drenched and were becoming heavier, putting stress on my knees. My breath was a bit labored because of the colder air. Ugh. I decided to veer off-course a little, to stick to a ‘between buildings route’ to minimize the impact of the wind for as long as I could. The main part of my running route runs along the sea where there is no shelter. Maybe I could find my rhythm by the time I reached the main part?, I thought.
I kept pacing myself. Dodging puddles, trying to find my rhythm. Then I hit a wind tunnel and it seemed like a good idea to turn back. But I decided to keep going. Increments. I got to the parking lot. I got to the funicular - which incidentally was precariously doing its last run until the weather cleared a bit. I got to the bridge. Running under this bridge is good shelter from the rain coming from above, but terrible for cars driving way too fast and deluging puddles like a tsunami over passers-by. And runners. I got past the bridge. I decided to cross the road to the left after passing the bridge, and had to dodge some huge-ass puddles to do so.
Then I got to the main stretch of my run and decided to cross back over to the right to the pedestrian path so as to get away from the road, cars and puddles that collect to form the equivalent of small, foul ponds. This is when the weather got even worse. Of course. The wind and rain were so fierce. As I said, this stretch along the water has only a few scattered palm trees, so there’s nowhere to seek shelter. I found myself having to periodically close my eyes because the rain drops were really big and they were banging on my eyeballs. It hurt. It wasn’t one of those types of winds that picks you up, but it was purdy gusty.
A few yards ahead of me, another runner had started their course. As the weather got worse, I saw him stop and go through the ‘Should I turn back?’ questioning in his own mind, but he decided to go on. As did I. I didn’t hesitate. With the wind and the rain pelting me, and my palms open wide to feel the rain, I started to laugh because I realized that a beautiful metaphor was playing out right in front of me as I ran head on into it.
The sky ahead was so dark, and the feeling I had was that the weather was going to get worse. But I kept going. I kept going because I knew that at some point, the weather would turn again and it was even possible that my return journey would be completed in the sunshine. I kept running through this amazing natural force that didn’t care if I turned around, kept going or was even there at all.
You guys should know that I love storms. I used to go out in full survival gear in Newfoundland (complete with snowshoes) and see how much I could go through and survive. Don’t get me wrong, my life was never in danger, but sometimes when you’re faced with mother nature’s various moods, it can be more than challenging. In fact, it can be scary. I actually seek out these moments when I feel safely challenged by mother nature. It feels like molting, somehow.
Many times the weather has changed quickly when I was far out at sea during a surf session. It changes so quickly sometimes, it feels like a heartbeat, and to be stuck in a raging sea when that change occurs is a very scary thing. Things become… unpredictable, in those times. It is skill and cucumber-ness that dictates the path. I do not seek these situations out. That feels more like molting in your pants, if you know what I mean.
In any case, to be stuck in a storm on land is much less dangerous and scary (to me anyway), but nonetheless, there is this ominousness that accompanies running into - or through - a growing storm: a feeling of ‘the unknown’ laying ahead.
Life is full of decision-making. So much of the time we make decisions based on fear. Sometimes the fear response reminds us that the best thing to do is to run. Sometimes the fear response is irrational. Speaking for myself, I recognize a type of fear (or perhaps all fear) that is detached from anything rooted in reality. It’s that type of fear that stops you from doing stuff that you might have done if you weren’t afraid. Know what I mean? The reason I said it is detached from anything rooted in reality is because it is. That expression, ‘The only thing to fear, is fear itself’ is true. There is nothing to fear but fear itself.
When I had that moment of ‘Should I turn back?’ today, it was nothing more than myself imagining something ‘bad’ happening to me as the weather got worse. It was my imagination. I could not know what would happen with the weather. Or myself. All I could do is go forward through it, and try to be intelligent, aware and wise. So I did. In this particular case, the weather turned very quickly to a much calmer state after I reached my halfway point. Within 5 minutes, the wind had died down. Within 10 minutes, the sun had come out.
It’s important for me to be clear that I make what I believe are well-informed decisions about weather (and other) dangers based on decades of learning to read the sky and sea. It’s part of the surfer in me. I would never challenge mother nature if she was clearly saying, ‘Uh yeah, time to turn back’, and I would never look real danger in the eye and challenge it unnecessarily.
I think this experience I had today is a metaphor for life, especially of late. It’s ok to be afraid. It helps us survive. But in my view, it’s not ok for me to let my fears stop me from moving forward. Storms will evolve. They always do. I cannot know how the current storm in life will evolve. No one can. Perhaps unlike mother nature’s storms however, we can steer the course of the man-made storms by our behaviours. I personally make better decisions when I am not afraid.
Perhaps the process of dissolving our own fears define our purposes in life? I don’t know.
To close, I couldn’t sleep last night because of the world being on edge. I prayed for over an hour (or at least my version) and I asked all the good guys left in the world to do more than they even think that they can. Now. I believe that we are really in an existential fight for our ‘world’. It is good against evil. It really is.
And on that note, the weather can control a great many things, including our daily behaviours. I chose to be with her today and to be uncomfortable in her power for a while.
I wanted to share this for many reasons, but mainly to pass on that I continue to run, both literally and figuratively. I will try to be unafraid when faced with the coming challenges. Whatever they may be.
Let’s pray, that She intervenes to at least give breathing space and an opportunity for good humans to make good decisions and to protect ALL those who need protecting.