What if I had never stopped running every day? What if I had maintained that discipline and got up every morning and ran up the hill as I did for so long? Where did I fail myself and desert that effort and why did I never start again? For years I maintained a routine of daily exertion, bad weather aside, but just as often running into the wind also. I was lean and fit, or trying to be and even in the face of adversity kept up the effort until……until I stopped.
It has been years since I got up and ran every morning. In addition to that this is the first time I have established a daily exercise routine. I am doing situps and pushups, in lieu of cutting wood and digging ditches I might add. In the past there has always been the routine of manual labor which sufficed for exercise, now I see the requirement of the same. My body is fifty seven years old and if it is still healthy it also needs to be toned, it will not improve otherwise. Chicken wings aren’t cool either though they will likely remain a constant, my arms are still bigger than most and I still get comments about my ‘guns’ but they will never equal the firmness of the past unless I really work at it. Although I have never had to put any effort towards that attribute it is also a statement in itself, I have worked hard all of my life.
What if my life were such that the joy and exhilaration of forced effort had remained a constant? There is another aspect of this reflection which delves deeper than the physical. If I have struggled for the last three years so I have paid the price and now I seek to reverse it. Though I have reflected almost daily on my life for as many years as I can recall it is only recently that I have shared those thoughts on a routine basis. It is one thing to bare oneself to oneself, it is totally different to post it on a page! I owe it to a now faithful audience to provide them with the same degree of hope and inspiration I seek to provide for myself and that is what I wish to do, a lofty but worthwhile goal I might add.
So it is that I pushed myself this morning and ran harder and further than I might have otherwise. I am not a great runner I should add, my German heritage graced me with thick thighs and calves and a heavier step than I might have chosen. Where my Native friends are lean and quick, likened to the Arabian horses which have such endurance, I am as a quarter horse, heavier of bone and though strong not nearly as lithe either. Still, I can run, and walk, and with each passing day draw just a little more air to my lungs and reach just a little further in my efforts. This does more than just strengthening my muscles, it strengthens my heart and lightens my spirit in a manner I so require at this moment.
If I feel burdened by the effort of my life and my work so my heart lifts with every step and for a moment I am free of the physical and emotional strain. I ran before the sun came up and I was rewarded for the effort and the break of the day was as joyful as my thoughts. I have always been capable of lifting myself above the mundane struggle of life to see the beauty of my existence and this morning was no exception. Sometimes all we can do is to run through the pain and push ourselves beyond the weight of our legs and the ache of our muscles. In fact, it is easier to do that than it is to push past the ache in our hearts, though in the end they are one and the same. I was reminded of this just yesterday and it served me well this morning. Too much of my struggle can be equated to another person’s efforts at the moment and I have learned too well that we cannot take on someone else’s pain when it is greater than our own, even if some of us are inclined to do so. I am hard wired for the same and even if it brings me some satisfaction I also need to know when to quit, even if quitting does not seem to be an option! I shared his pain yesterday when he failed at his ongoing efforts towards sobriety and at the crux of it fled his company also. I escaped to the mountainside and didn’t stop until I reached the top, short of breath and with aching legs, but I summited anyway, I had to. I climbed through the ache in my heart and by the time I returned I was restored, that simple, that easy. What if I did that every day?
My friend lifts weights and runs when he is sober, and he has challenged me to do the same. If I have resigned myself to the struggle of staying with my job, which I am less than happy with, so I am determined to better my life, again. Having spent so much of my life trying to stay fit both mentally and physically I am a little disappointed with myself at the moment. I have been slacking at both even though I’ve tried also. I have no desire to become a prisoner of my own life, trapped within a mind or body that less than pleases me and the requirement of honoring that is as essential as it has ever been. I have lived by the premise of, “If not now, then when?” for years and yet I have also ignored the same. Now is of the greatest importance and if there is something I desire then it needs to be addressed. What if I had continued on that path I was on years ago and kept myself fit in mind, body and spirit? What if I don’t?