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August 26, 2007

I see the road is long, so get on my side

A couple of weeks ago I was running in Prospect Park, and I had an epiphany. (I love having epiphanies in the park, it's part of what makes it mine.) It was a perfectly beautiful day to run, low 70s, dry, brilliant blue sky, other people out but not so many that the running paths were crowded (just enough that it felt companionable to be out). I was running while thinking about future running, how I was planning to do a 5K in SF in August with a friend, and another one in October, and I was thinking about how when I'm 40, the qualifying time for the Boston Marathon will go up. A 40-year-old woman only needs to run a 4-hour marathon to qualify for Boston, and I've been thinking I could someday do that. And here's where the epiphany came in.

I realized I was doing all that future running and not paying attention to Right Now, and I let it go. I got back into the moment and felt the cool breeze touching my whole body, naked as I ever am in public, and I felt my heart pounding and sweat soaking my hair. I really saw my surroundings, and I drank them in and let them replenish me. I realized that when I run, I have to run because I love to run In That Moment, not for any future gain or reward. When we train, we don't know if we'll be able to run the future race. Maybe we'll get injured, sure, but maybe there will be insane weather, or a loved one will be sick, or there will be a car accident on the way to the start point, or any number of other disasters. If everything hinges on that race, if we can only be satisfied by running it, then all the other time is just preparation, just effort spent for the future. If we run for right now, if we stay aware and present, then both the current moment and the future one can be perfect. And more perfection, more joy, is all we can hope for in the world. By the time I ran down the little hill at the end of my two-mile loop, I felt fast as the angels and in love with the universe.

I didn't realize how well this attitude would come to serve me, just a couple of weeks after the realization. First of all, that 5K in San Francisco? I didn't get to run it. My stupid neurological problems started acting up the week before the race, and I've spent most of the last two weeks on a cane. (I promise, I will go see the crack neurologist who is supposed to play Dr. House for me.) But I had a wonderful time in SF, and I went out to the race site (by the marina!) and walked most of the 5K holding hands with my new love, and we got to see my friend zoom past us running the “back” part of the “out-and-back,” and the bay was beautiful and the fog was ethereal and the Golden Gate Bridge was Just Over There but invisible behind its shroud and it was a perfect morning. If I'd been too concentrated on running that race, my disappointment might have kept me from enjoying what turned out to be an exhilarating experience.

Secondly, keeping my heart in the now instead of focused on a future goal is helping me negotiate the emotional minefield of a new romance. We don't know how things are going to turn out, and everything is new and a little scary, but we don't need to know how things are going to turn out. We just need to stay in the eternal now. Because now is the perfect moment, and always will be.

Posted by Rose at August 26, 2007 11:05 PM


That was a gorgeous reminder. Thanks for sharing your epiphany.

Posted by: hazelbroom at August 27, 2007 12:23 PM

I have no idea if you still see these comments, but I just stumbled upon this post and it was what I needed to read and what I haven't managed to say since I stopped being able to run because of chronic illness. How I wish I had paid more attention to the Right Now while running.

I got here because a friend sent me a link to your Presbyterian song. So, thanks for both of them.

Posted by: liz at March 2, 2009 12:12 PM

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