Nothing in life is permanent. While this is extraordinarily sad sometimes, it is true. I have experienced this the hard way. I have lost best friends, family members, and seen incredible suffering. Life can be very very tough. Sometimes, I feel like I am too young to understand this. But, it is what it is.
Life is also wonderful and amazing. I have been blessed with incredible joy and good fortune. I am surrounded by amazing family and friends.
Over the course of my lifetime, I have learned to let go. I understand the nature of control. Life to me is like being in the ocean. Sometimes it is just perfect and I can catch that big wave and ride it in. Other times I have been pummelled by surf and dragged by the tide.
When I was a teenager, I was surfing and I saw that I was going to be hit by a huge wave. I went to duck under the wave. I did not go under water fast enough and my board cord got wrapped around my neck. I was held underwater and couldn't move. I relaxed and got dragged in to the beach by the wave and the board by my neck. I was ok, but I had a big huge red ligature mark around my neck- it looked like I tried to hang myself. I instinctively knew to relax. Relax and let go or drown and be killed. It was scary but I knew that if I fought the surf I would not survive.
When I was about 6 years old, my parents took us to Ocean City, Maryland. We went to the beach and the surf was huge. I knew how to swim, but had not spent much time in the ocean riding the waves yet. My father asked me if I wanted to bodysurf and I eagerly agreed. We went in the water, he showed my how to swim with the wave and catch it. I did as I was told and I got pummeled. My little body was tossed up in the air, I swallowed copious amounts of water, and I was forcefully dragged to the beach by the wave. I got up, looked at my father, and looked at my mother and saw a look of horror on her face. I brushed my hair out of my face and asked to do it again.
I think this was a very harsh way to learn about swimming in the ocean but it saved my life years later. I learned to relax and let go. But, something else became apparent on that day. My wicked and twisted side was showing through. That wave pummeled my 6 year old body. But after it was done, I wanted to do it again. Did I want to do it because it was fun? No way. In retrospect, I believe I wanted to go back into that water to chase the thrill. I was chasing the thrill of something that beat me. I needed to conquer those waves. I needed to learn to work with the tide and use that fierceness to bring myself to victory.
This is where running comes in. Most of my life is out of my control. The only thing I can control is my own reactions and behavior. When I'm on the trail its me and the dirt. Hills have darn near killed me. I've gotten my butt handed after tripping over a root I didn't see. But, I brush off and get back up. I can control that. I can control how I deal with the stuff that comes my way when I'm running.
I attribute my DNF (did not finish) during this summer's 100 miler to crappy circumstances. I was healthy, hydrated, fed but things happened that I couldn't control and it affected my time. This lit a fire in me that I don't believe existed before. I will never quit in a race, quit on family and friends, or quit on life in general. I will hang on and do the right thing and what needs to be done in that moment until I am physically unable to do so.
Everybody needs something. You've got to have something to hold on to when it all hits the fan. It's way to easy to fall into addictions and negative patterns of behavior and pretend things aren't real when it gets to painful. My something is running. I choose running. I choose the trails and the woods. I have learned that in that solitude, I can pound out all of my frustration and let go or be dragged.
There is something to be said for embracing discomfort. Lean into it. Use your something to really feel what's going on around you. We can't control life. Its wonderful and devastating and surprising. Embrace the discomfort. Use your something to bring you through those times that you just don't think you can move through. Use your something to celebrate life's wonderful surprises and gifts.
And if you can't find me.... look on a trail. I will be out there pounding it out.
Scars on 45, "Give Me Something"
"Give me something
Something to hold onto
Give me something
That links me to you"