Timeless Wisdom from the Little River Band
We ran through the mud, our red tutus flouncing … when I saw him struggling down the trail.
We were about ¾ of the way done with the 10K, heading down the ravine, about to start climbing the single track path. It was slippery with pine needles and leaves; we were both watching our footing — I could hear Julie’s breath coming hard behind me.
A man was awkwardly making it down the wet trail facing us, over a half an hour behind, one leg not really bending, doing this lopsided hop/jog. It didn’t look easy; actually, it was painful to watch. As the three of us passed each other, I shouted out “You go!” or “Right on!” something like that; I’m a “joyful runner” (annoying is the word my galpal used) and had been shouting “woo hoos” to the serious athletes, as well as to the walkers.
As I hefted my tutu-covered butt up the hill, the heat in my bad hip begging for some ibuprofen, I wondered what his motivation was to run, to put himself through the struggle. All I could assume was that he was doing it for the same reason most of us were doing it, because we could. Because there might be a time or there was a time, when we couldn’t.
Through the burning, I thought, “Look at this guy .. what in the hell do I have to be whiny-ass about?”
Just a few days before the Jingle Bell Dash, I was hoping that a massive snowstorm would block our way down from Reno to the San Francisco Bay Area. Down in the dumps, I hadn’t been really excited about anything. Cancer was devastating two families I knew. Another friend was in crisis. I didn’t even decorate the Charlie Brown tree I picked up just to say I had one; it wasn’t the same without my mom, who would find great delight in my husband’s frustration while putting lights on each year.
I felt guilty buying presents knowing that my brother, once again and probably not for the last time, didn’t have a penny to his name or a sock without a hole in it. Turning on the news, so much tragedy …
Honestly, how can you feel joyful and want to celebrate when shitty things are happening to people around you?
So yeah, I was feeling untypically depressed, letting things I have no control over, things not even directly affecting me, seep in. But there I was — running in a totally girly red tutu, tights, a sequined Santa hat, and elf socks. All put together by a friend I hadn’t seen in twelve years, who welcomed me back into her life like we had just seen each other yesterday.
Call it runner’s high or just time to “get over myself,” I thought about the people who I would be spending the holidays with. Friends who bring out the best in me, who know every song I have sung with the wrong words since I was fourteen. And, of course, my husband who has loved fat Chris, skinny Chris; the Chris who has had some really well-intentioned, but very bad ideas over the last 24 years. All these people who have been there for me when times have been fantastic, and also truly “in the shitter, Clark.”
Julie wheezed, “Chris, I’ve got to walk, you go, girl,” so I sprinted forward, knowing I could log a PR (personal record) for my last race of the year. Running alone, feeling powerful, I looked back and caught sight of her red tulle falling behind. The finish-line was close, but it didn’t feel right anymore — so I ran back up the hill; we were going to complete her first 10K together, and we sprinted through the finish-line. We hung out for a while, but I never saw that man again. I knew though, he’d complete his journey.
Driving to work today, the words of the immortal 1970’s philosophers “The Little River Band” came through the radio, singing “Feel for the winter, but don’t have a cold heart” (from their song, Lady). I’m not sure what the words really mean, but thought to myself:
It’s OKAY to feel sad or down, or whatever it is we need to feel, especially during the pressure of the holidays, to be a certain way. And it is also OKAY to find strength, celebrate our blessings, and draw close the people we love, even when others are suffering.
Well, that’s what I’m sticking with.
Thinking of all of our friends and family who have had great happiness this year, and some, a real rough time of it. I sincerely hope that you are surrounded by friends who love you, and that you will find joy in 2013.
PS – So, talk about “perspective” in action. During our trip down to the Bay Area this week for the holidays (our second trip down since the race), my one month old new (used) car broke down and we had to spend about 12 extra hours in the car, renting a car, stuck on 80, icy conditions, driving up and down to Reno to haul it back, blah, blah, blah, money, money, money. And my husband says, “Think about all this quality time we get to spend together.” I thought of our friend Brian who just lost his wife and would probably give ANYTHING to spend 12 extra hours in the car with his wife. You know, it was a great 12 hours and a great holiday afterall.
Originally published by Raving Consulting Company