Monday, January 26, 2015

The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius

Three years ago, when I turned thirty, I made the conscious decision to “work on myself.”  It wasn’t so much that I wasn’t happy with my life (though I wasn’t), but that I wasn’t happy with the way I dealt with my life.  “Highly reactionary” is the phrase that comes to mind; a born storyteller, I could weave drama out of approximately anything.  But what makes for the best story doesn’t always make for the best life.

It was a year in which I tried being the kind of the person I’d previously mocked:  someone whose breakfast was squeezed out of a juicer, and who skipped parties to stay home and watch Wayne Dyer specials during PBS pledge week, and who wrote affirmations to herself and taped them to the bathroom mirror.

And I was someone who adamantly rebelled against the notion that the pleasures of running should be connected to the time on a wristwatch.  I ran my second – and most enjoyable – marathon that year, after a training season in which I greeted each 6:00 a.m. Saturday run with calm determination and a pointed thank you to the rising sun.

Change had come so swiftly and so effortlessly that when a friend I hadn’t seen in a while asked me how I’d been, with neither hesitation nor the slightest self-consciousness, I replied, “I’m very enlightened now.

And I really thought that I was.  I thought that I was on my way to Buddhist-monk levels of inner peace, and that I would never again be rattled out of myself by the behavior of other people, and that through the magic of simply learning to stop and breathe, I had discovered, among other things, the key to perpetually satisfying running.  I had found the answer.


Except I hadn't.  (Or if I had, I let it slip away.)


I have a confession:  I don’t love running.  I like it an awful lot (well, most of the time), and we get along well enough, but deep down, neither of us is fooling the other.  Ours is a relationship of convenience.  I give my time and my energy, and in return I get an adequate level of fitness and, a couple of times a year, a runner’s high.  

Running and I are entering our ninth year together, and sometimes I look at what running gives other people and compare that to what it gives me, and I feel a little betrayed.  Like, after all this time, I should be getting more out of this deal.  I wouldn’t even ask for much. Maybe just a new 5k PR without having to kill myself over it or something.

But then I think about how I spent a year of my life believing I had unlocked the key to keeping my running fresh, and that I came to that conclusion not through diligent attention to my exercise regimen, but by listening to nothing but new age music for twelve months, and that’s when I have to be honest with myself.  Running gives me no more or no less than it should.


January is a bleak month - the weather is shitty, everyone's mood is shitty, the enthusiasm of the new year and all its promises starts to fade, and spring - that endlessly-hyped beacon of renewal - seems just far enough in the distance that it might never come. 

Today, as I write this, I am not sad, but I am saddled with the anxious feeling of being ready for the next chapter.  I feel it, all the while knowing it is the anxiousness, not the present moment, that is the problem.  

How to get through?  I will strive to run deliberately, and attempt to do so expecting nothing in return. I mean that literally, but I mean it even more metaphorically.  I am not racing the clock...

...I am racing myself.


  1. Last Tuesday in January. And 5 short weeks (less than that now) until March. Hang in there!