We all have something in our lives that we cherish and fiercely protect, something we keep in our lives deliberately, no matter what else changes or goes away. Something to keep us sane and, sometimes, to give us a handhold by which we can remember and reclaim our individual identity. I say something and not someone, because family and friends are valuable in their own right, and that’s a subject for another post.
The something could be prayer, or yoga, or fishing, or playing video games – anything, really, that helps us disengage from the world for a little while, and return better for it. Lose focus to gain focus, as I like to say.
For me, that something is running. It has been a constant of my life for the last 18-plus years. I ran throughout high school, college, through my first years of independence, and into the present. I’ve moved and changed jobs; been single and not-single; been training for races with dogged determination and…not. Through it all, I’ve kept running. I can honestly say that I love it, and all it asks for in return is a little bit of time.
My life has gotten busy lately. The kind of busy where I find myself deciding, frequently, whether I want to hit the snooze button once more, or whether I want that snooze time to floss, put on make-up, and make the bed [sleep usually wins]. The kind of busy where I have to pick between people in my life or chores in my home [yes, dirty dishes and laundry can and do wait].
My priorities are starting to shift. I know it’s a healthy thing, but that doesn’t make it easy, or always pleasant. It means…adjusting.
I’m learning, gradually, to be okay with this. I’m also learning that no matter how much my priorities may shift and tumble around like the contents of a washing machine, certain things Need. To. Stay.
Running helps me lose focus to gain focus. It makes me a better person. Not always a happier, more serene person – not all of my runs yield the so-called “runner’s high,” believe me – but a better person. When I’m running on a regular basis, I feel more balanced, more capable of doing the things that need doing. The satisfaction that comes when I peel off my shoes after a run, and the benefits that each run brings, carry into the rest of my life.
I’m not talking about physical benefits; I’m talking about the other benefits: A tiny morsel of freedom? Check. A feeling of accomplishment? Check. Something I do for me, that reflects who I have been, who I am, and who I hopefully will be for a long time to come? Check. Something that reminds me that no matter how chaotic life gets, there will always be something in my day-to-day life that I love? Check. Something that, to paraphrase Kristin Armstrong, fills my pitcher so that I may fill the cups of others? Check. Most sincerely, check.
I’m not racking up the mileage that I was five months ago, but I’m running. For now, that’s good enough.
What’s your constant?
Thanks to my big brother for the home-grown sunflower photos!