Have you ever been so ready for a run that you can’t stop thinking about hitting the pavement? That was me this morning. My Saturday runs are the highlight of my week. I’m able to release all of the tension from the previous week, enjoy the sunlight, and get in a long run that I usually can’t do during the week. This morning my goal was to pound out a strong 9 miles, which would be the first 9 mile run since during my training. I was feeling limber, strong, and my mind was clear. I was ready.
Until I started running.
About two miles in I began to feel the nachos I ate for dinner the night before turning in my stomach. Then, I realized my pants were too big and I had to keep pulling them up. At about mile 4 I tripped and fell because I was staring at a parade float of Martin Luther King Jr. Then, I got stuck in the mass of people watching the MLK Day parade. At about mile 6 I realized I had pulled a muscle when I fell. Then, I had to start walking. All while having to go to the bathroom the entire time. My 9 mile goal turned into 7.75 sub-par miles.
Isn’t it funny how we picture things going so well before they happen? And then, when they do happen, the outcome is completely different than what we anticipated? I could’ve been upset that my run wasn’t going as well as I had planned, but instead of being upset, I decided to simply enjoy it. I stopped to watch the parade, as opposed to being frustrated by the slow moving people. I took in my surroundings instead of focusing on the pain of my pulled muscle. And, I made this connection:
Life is busy. Like, way too busy.
Between balancing a career, a social life, and all of the little things I didn’t need to worry about in college (cleaning, grocery shopping, paying bills, getting the oil changed in my car), I feel as though I barely have time to breathe. I sprint through my days to get everything done at work, and then once 5 o’clock hits I run home to do everything else that needs to be done. It’s scary how easily life can become like a laundry list of things that need to get done.
But life isn’t and shouldn’t be a laundry list. In fact, there’s a quote that’s been popping into my head quite often recently. It comes from a play you may have read during high school (and I had the privilege of performing it onstage) called Our Town. In the third act, we learn that the main character, Emily, has passed away. However, she gets the opportunity to relive her 12th birthday though she finds it too painful, because she realizes she didn’t appreciate what she had when she had it. Thus, she says:
“Let’s really look at one another!…It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed… Wait! One more look. Good-bye , Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover’s Corners….Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking….and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths….and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth,you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every,every minute? (Emily)”
I’m just gonna give you a moment to soak that one in…
Do we take the time to cherish everything that’s been given to us and that surrounds us in this life? Do we look at one another and simply appreciate each other’s beauty? Do we tell the people we love that we love them? Of course, these are all rhetorical questions. But, I couldn’t help but ask myself these questions when I was enjoying my run this morning. I’ve noticed that my days have become somewhat of a planned out laundry list. I haven’t been taking the time to appreciate all that surrounds me. And, just as Emily realized, I too realized that it’s so very easy to take things as simple as the smell of fresh brewed coffee for granted. I’ve also realized that I tend to envision how I think something should go instead of accepting and enjoying life as it comes — just as I envisioned my “perfect” run this morning, and soon finding out that it wasn’t going to go as I had planned.
Pretty deep run, huh?
That’s why I love running, though. For me, it’s the gateway to creating a deeper and richer life. It gives me time to think, challenge myself mentally and physically, and take in the beauty that surrounds me.
So, this week I think I’ll slow down a bit. No more running myself ragged to check off to-do lists. No more stress. Life is too short, as Emily expressed, and why would I waste the little time I have here not cherishing everything I’ve been blessed with?