Monday, August 1, 2011

gaps and opportunities

In running, and in life, you can fall into a gap and get stuck there.

After a period of about a year, I've come to realize I've been spending time in one of these gaps, checking it out, languishing a bit too long. To be specific, after completing the NYC marathon last year, I haven't stopped running, but I've stopped training, which in a sense is all about moving forward.

There are some good excuses: the temperature's never seemed quite right, my clothes from a few years back feel itchy on my skin and my fitness levels have plummeted. I've also been launching a freelance writing career, finishing a book manuscript and trying to find love. But being honest with myself, I've allowed a darkness of spirit to seep in that I haven't really felt up to facing yet.

Though I've been aware of it happening, I haven't been able to figure out why I'm letting it happen. Have I not been putting myself first? Or is it normal when my other major life goals are a priority? But none of the above goals have been fully realized. They are all unfinished marathons in their own ways.

The endless monkey brain loop is something I've spoken a lot about in this blog. A steady stream of thought spirals, what-ifs and ruminations like those ghostly army men in the last Harry Potter movie, hungering, blood-thirsty and ready to storm the castle any chance they get.

While I was training for the marathons, those annoying footmen seemed to take a break for a while, but now they're back, in full force, storming my weakened barriers on all fronts.

Penetrable barriers aren't necessarily a bad thing. Porous boundaries allow me to take in a lot more of the world. This profound sensitivity allows me to see trends, sense feelings on a mass scale and perceive the stormfronts simmering below the surface that others may not notice. Eschewing cliches more readily, hopefully I can see the entirety of what is.

The problem is that sometimes "what is"—this gap—can have a dark cast to it. I think I've seen the darkness a little more fully this year. In slowing down, taking a break from work and busyness, I've allowed myself to really see it, walk around in it and feel it—maybe for the first time in my life.

The darkness isn't a bad thing either, but when you have fuzzy edges, it feels like you've been walking outside on a cold, rainy day without a jacket and you feel it in your bones.

However, running buffers the grainy edges. With each pounding foot, the jangly glass shards tossing around inside me smooth out and my internal barriers thicken up.

Running is like carrying a sepia-toned flashlight, softening what I see into beautiful rosy glow.

Instead of seeing shadows, I see opportunities.

There may be gaps to fall into, but with running, there's hope.

With each step, I'm reminded that taking action, in whatever small way I can, is the answer.

Sometimes it takes a full year to realize this, but other times, all it takes is one good run.

As I get back into running more regularly, signing up for races again as little metaphors to face my fears and complete things, I'll be casting a light on those annoying Harry Potter army men waiting cleverly outside my castle. As I do this, hopefully I'll also start to see the completion of all the other marathons in my life—the book manuscript, a successful freelance career, opening up my heart enough to fully let love in.

I have to believe that this waylay hasn't been for naught. That within these small gaps of nothingness that we fill with our beliefs and thoughts also lie the breeding ground for the biggest opportunities—the transformative kind that feel like miracles.

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