spring has sprung.
even in missoula, montana (where it usually doesn't until about
the middle of may).
and while the coming of the season signals new beginnings all
around...the first new buds just barely taking shape on bushes and trees, the
dormant brown earth awakening in very subtle shades of green, the novice
drivers-in-training let loose to wreak potential havoc on the streets and
highways of our fair city (including my younger son)...it meets me at a very
unfamiliar place in life.
a place you could variously call 'sudden unemployment'...
or 'instant career transition'...
or 'immediate upheaval of all sense of security and confidence,
real and imagined, in my life'...
or 'the spring of new possibiltities arriving WAY earlier than
not unlike this spring that has sprung much sooner than anyone
could have predicted.
a crisis unlike any i have encountered, even in my nightmares.
an opportunity with possibilities that remain as hidden to my
perception as the reasons why doing a 'knick-knack, paddy-whack' and giving a
dog a bone will cause this certain old man to coming rolling home.
and so, like the ebbing and flowing of the tide and the coming
and going of the seasons, which happen whether i choose for them to do so or
not, change is 'knick-knacking' on my door and rolling right into my home,
giving me a gift of fresh opportunities and new beginnings.
right in the middle of my life.
a chance to start...again.
one of the ways that this newness is manifesting itself in my
life is the re-emergence of my desire to run the Missoula Half Marathon once
again with Trevor, raising awareness and funds for the Nakuru 316 Rescue
Homeless Shelter for young women and their children in Nakuru, Kenya. and now
that we've both been there and know the N316 community personally, there's an
even greater impetus for us to support them in any ways that we can.
of course, this means that i've had to start running again.
after we did the Half in 2010, Trevor caught the running bug and
has gone on to run cross country and indoor track in high school. but i caught
the bug that causes one to rest on their laurels and enjoy cheering T on at his
meets from the comfort of the sidelines, standing in the old running shoes that
were 'retired' after the miraculous accomplishment of running 13.1 miles
without stopping...ONCE. the after-run Gatorade has been replaced by the
'someday-i'll-get-back-out-and-run' beer at Kettlehouse on Friday afternoons.
and it shows...in my gut, and my general disposition, which can be described
most concretely as 'WAY out of shape.'
so, a couple of weeks ago, on Palm Sunday, i threw on my sweats,
laced up my old shoes, and waddled my way through my old 3 mile loop. i arrived
home still able to walk and talk, and only needed three ibuprofen afterwards. a
'moral victory' for me.
two days later, T and i went on what is usually a 3.5 mile loop
around the university, down along the river, and back home. but construction
along the river trail forced us onto a detour that added an additional half
mile to our trek, making it an even 4 miles. and once again, i made it through
without any major aches and pains, and even occasionally joining in the
conversation that T was having (mostly with himself, since i was incoherently
wheezing most of the way).
two more days later, i decided to try my luck at a 5 mile loop.
and my luck partially ran out. i did make it through, but had to stop to walk a
couple of times because the middle toe on my right foot was going numb, along
with the long 'band' that runs from my glutius maximus down the back of my leg
to said foot. needles to say, it was a four-ibuprofen day.
i waited four more days until i ventured out again, this time on
the 4 mile loop on a bright, hot, sunny day. i mostly felt fine, even when the
packs of women and old men sprinted past me on the river trail.
two days later (today), i went out once again on the 4 miler,
this time under cloudy skies threatening rain. and i actually felt like there
were moments along the journey where i wasn't waddling so much, and actually
starting to approach some semblence of 'running' form. when i arrived home, i
was tired AND rejuvenated, having done the loop a bit faster than i had in
previous attempts. no ibuprofen required (at least not yet).
the detour on the route now takes me over the river on two
additional walking bridges. and by the time i'm making my way back across the
second bridge, i'm usually starting to hit a little wall, psychologically if
not physically. and today was no different in that regard.
but i noticed something on the bridge today. i don't know if it
had been there before or not. but since i run so often with my head down, i
definitely couldn't miss it. so it must have appeared in the last couple of
days. a new addition.
someone had spray painted something on the concrete walkway.
right in the middle.
a squiggly line of spray paint then proceeded from the word,
towards the path on the other side of the river.
and it hit me right then and there.
i was about 2.5 miles through my run.
i was tired, emotionally and physically.
i was tempted to stop and walk for a few moments.
and then i see this simple word...
not at the beginning of my run.
right in the middle of it.
a chance to 'Start'...again.
i felt a little burst of energy surge through my body...very
i felt my pulse quicken ever so slightly...just barely.
and my feet bounced up a little higher, almost like dancing.
and my head rose up, my face pointing forward instead of
and i could feel my breath lifting my lungs, then rushing out
over the river...again...and again.
the breathing of my body...the sighing of the Spirit.
the languid lumbering of my legs...the perplexing paradox of my
pathway of life.
the undulating uncertainties...the preposterous possibilities.
a crisis unlike any i have encountered.
an opportunity unlike any i have been offered.
a chance to start...again