Nearing the end of my 31st trip around the sun, I’ve found myself in possibly the most peculiar season of life that I have ever encountered. I won’t go into great detail here, partly because I try to make these things relatable for like the two or three people who read them by “painting with broad strokes” if you will, but also partly because, truth be told, I would have a great deal of trouble articulating exactly what I mean. Furthermore, a blog is for public consumption, and we all have to draw the line somewhere.
I run nearly every single mile totally solo. Not because I’m anti-social by any means, but because I savor solitude, and that solitude is also part of what keeps me excited and willing to spend the majority of every day interacting with people virtually non-stop. It also affords an opportunity to mull things over, chew on things, or sometimes just “run away” from things altogether for a little while. You know, like going running with your demons, and then they have an asthma attack a couple miles in, so then they leave you alone for the rest of the run. It’s great. There are few things in this life that running through the woods or mountains can’t solve, at least for a while. Whatever whirlwind you find yourself in in your life, it’s rare that running can’t bring you back to center.
But for the last several weeks, being out on the trails and spending that time in my own head, which is normally my favorite part of the day, has felt more like running with a 500 pound monkey on my back (I believe that is otherwise known as a gorilla) just chattering away and slapping me with his stupid banana peels until I pay attention to him. He even comes along for races like a big a**hole, somewhat muting the extra bit of “umph” that gives you that extra gear in a race or workout. I hope he leaves soon.
I am generally able to look at situations in life that maybe didn’t pan out ideally or at all how I expected them to, but still be able to find the positives. No matter what happens, there are nearly always silver linings, or at the very least, something to learn, even if the lesson is a painful one. That’s life, it’s not a merry-go-round all the time, and that’s okay. But sometimes, albeit (and thankfully) very rarely, a situation or thing has no real positives, no matter how you spin it. Just watch the news to see numerous examples in action. Perhaps something that seemed completely benign, even beneficial, ended up impacting your life in ways that never would’ve foreseen, and not for the better, and you’re left reeling and trying to figure out which way is north, and now with a gorilla on your back slapping you with banana peels like a big, furry, bastard. What makes it tougher is when you get real with yourself and realize that, while you initially may have only been guilty of things like naivety and perhaps an idealistic view of people and the world around you, you created said situation, however unwittingly. It is so, so easy to excuse ourselves and take no ownership when things go wrong; you screw up in a race and it’s tempting to blame a coach, you screw up in life and it’s tempting to blame circumstances out of our control. But at the end of the day, we make our own choices, for better or for worse. Sometimes you have to look in the mirror and realize that you dug your own grave, and that can be one hell of a bitter pill to swallow.
We are all guilty of always looking for the very greenest grass. It’s human nature to believe that the grass is always greener on the other side, or that everybody else’s grass is greener than ours. But I am starting to think that’s hardly ever true. Sometimes the grass is greenest right where you’re standing, even if there are some weeds to pull, and even if it’s not the exact type of grass that you thought you’d have. It doesn’t matter, if you find yourself with a plot of that grass, you water and fertilize the s**t out of it and see what grows anyway. Roll up those weeds and smoke them if you have to. If a wonderful opportunity is given to you on a silver platter, even if the platter has a stain, don’t throw it away for a silver platter that looks shinier, because it’s probably fake silver. Don’t fall for it.
We all make mistakes, some bigger than others, some longer lasting than others, some more fixable than others, and you have to make peace with them and move on. You can either move on in bits and pieces, or rip off the Band-Aid all at once and bleed for a while until there is a scab, then try not to keep picking at the scab. I haven’t quite figured out which way is better.
Dear Lord, enough with the melodramatic metaphors already. Somebody slap me. Just please not with a banana peel.
At any rate, I’m thankful for health and for running and for the beautiful place that I get to live and run in, and for the second chances that seem to always materialize in some form or other eventually. In the meantime, if you see me running around with a gorilla on my back, don’t panic. In fact, feel free to join…and by all means bring your own gorilla.