It’s been a rough couple of days on the home-front…nothing earth-shattering…just family drama. It used to be that when life threw …let’s call it “stuff” my way, I’d have an avenue to get my head and heart out of whatever was happening at the time. It’s no secret….it was running (and sometimes ice-cream too). That’s what is so wonderful about running. It gets you into and out of your head. It’s the perfect balance for body and soul, whether you’re troubled by the drama that life throws your way or you’re blissfully happy.
Years of pounding the pavement and beautiful trails in twelve different states and three foreign countries…years of zoning-in and zoning-out…talking to God, or to no one…or spilling heart and soul to a running buddy; all those miles helped to keep me centered, and on some extremely difficult days, from throwing myself off of a cliff.
I cannot run anymore. Well…almost.
I’ll confess to a 6 mile-walk-run this past Sunday. The last time I covered that distance in running shoes was many months ago. Today my knees and calves feel as if they’d just finished a marathon distance. They are still very unhappy, as they should be; my body is not accustomed to running that distance now…and my knees are worn to the bone. Still, it was one of those mornings where the body felt right, but the heart didn’t. So, I did what I’ve done for many years …I ran and though today I ache from head to toe, I felt fantastic when I had finished my run, and for hours afterwards. The heaviness that I felt in my heart was gone. My spirits were lifted and all was lovely with the world. It didn’t matter that the skies were a somber gray nor did it matter that the “stuff” was still unresolved; like the baskets of laundry piled high, it was all still there, waiting to be ironed, folded, and put away. It matters not that many people over-simplify this feeling as runner’s high. It is, in my view, infinitely more…and of course better than sticking a needle in my arm or popping pills (both of which, by the way, have never, ever entered into my sphere of consciousness).
I’ll admit to being a little worried about getting through crises (large and small) without the benefit of my “dearest friend” running. OK…a lot worried. Sometimes I’m just not sure whether I’ll be able to keep myself from falling into a deep dark hole without the joy of running. Despite the obvious structural problems with my body, running has nurtured my soul and allowed me to discover what I am made of. People that don’t run can’t fully understand this. It’s OK; I gave up a long time ago trying to explain it.
So this morning, after a sleepless night, I’m up far too early and before long I’m pacing back and forth like a caged tiger trying to figure out how to work through issues tugging at my heart without throwing on running shoes and hobbling, literally, through the pain of a walk-jog.
And then I remembered. There is a Tuesday morning punch bag class. It’s a 45-minute class that combines punch bag training with other high-intensity movements like ball slams, push-ups, heavy rope slams, burpees, and jumping rope.
I throw on workout pants and sift through the pile of workout shirts trying to find one suitable enough to cover the new bulges that have insidiously appeared around my waist over the past year as a result of a slowing metabolism and moving less. I put on my minimalist shoes (perfect for this sort of activity) and grab my punch bag gloves and the tub of Aquaphor to slather on my hands before putting on the gloves (it helps prevent chafing and abrasions) and I head out the door for the early morning class.
Once I am on the bag… everything falls away. With each jab, cross, hook I am out of my head, thinking only of the bag in front of me. I’m breathing hard; inhaling…then exhaling, noisily and in sync with each punch to the bag; hitting it hard and fast with all the strength that I can muster. Five minutes in, salty sweat pours into my eyes…my heart is pounding and all my focus is on my form and on the bag. I almost don’t hear the blast of rap and heavy-metal music the instructor has chosen for the class (it’s simply impossible to punch to Mozart).
If God magically gave me new knees tomorrow….I’d go back to my first love–running–in a heart beat. But that’s not going to happen. Maybe the next generation of folks will be able to enjoy technology that either restores cartilage to the knee surface or knee replacements designed to allow for running.
So, the punch bag will have to do and quite honestly, I’m finding that it is a decent replacement in this chapter of my life.
Forty-five minutes later, drenched with sweat, face all a-glow, and strands of hair escaping from my pony-tail, I think I am ready to face the day, drama and all.
I make may way to Starbucks and while in line waiting for my non-fat Latte I ‘m skimming through an article on Tiny Buddha, http://tinybuddha.com/. One line jumps out at me, perfect for the moment.. especially for my sis too.
“My dear, sometimes in life we’re being tested. We’re given directions and options and we have to weigh them. And sometimes, even after weighing on a multitude of scales, lengths, and units, it is perfectly normal not to be sure of anything.”
And, in my quest for balance in all things, I’ll end the day on the side of softness and turning in-ward, on the yoga mat…where I can bring heart and mind back to a place of gratitude, not only for where I am but also for who I am. I’m not sure of anything…not even how long this good feeling will last, and that’s perfectly acceptable. Tomorrow is another day and, considering the alternative, there is bliss in that!