Post Election Depression: The Old House

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Picture of old house with flowers growing in frontIt’s been over two weeks since the 2016 Presidential election and I’m still waking up many nights with feelings of anxiety and fear. And I’m a privileged white guy. I can’t imagine what it must be like for those who fear the results of the race could radically and imminently change their life. Regardless, the situation definitely knocked me down into a state of mild depression from which I’m just starting to climb out of. Sometime recently, I stumbled across this journal entry from 2014 and it reminded me of how I’ve been feeling lately.

Riding the waves of emotion and mood, from feeling flat and half-dead inside to being ruffled and roughed up at the slightest of provocations, to not often enough experiencing feelings of joy and wonder. It gets tiring to try to stay afloat in this ever changing sea, with my arms flapping about in its waters looking for stability.

I fear I’ve slid into a depression. I’m in a place inside me that feels all too familiar, an old house with furnishings dusty and broken down, with only dim cloud filtered light coming in through broken windows. The floors creak and groan as I walk about this place looking at the faded pictures hanging crooked on walls with peeling paint, images of all my fears coming true and of all my past failings and hurts. I don’t want to stay in this place. I want to get out, but I can’t find the front door.

I know that a better place exists within me; a place full of beauty and light, not contained within four walls, open to time and space. I have lived there too, run free over it’s hills and valleys, bathed in it’s warm seas, been astonished and brought to tears of wonder at its star filled skies. This is the place of possibility, where anything can happen, where I know that I belong, where everyone belongs, each a piece of the syncopated orchestra of life.

I know I will return to the place of beauty and light, leave this old house and its dark shadows behind, just as I know that I can never leave it behind forever. This house is a part of me, just as the sunlit world is. I must learn to accept it as one of the places I call home, to be open to it, to learn all of it’s secrets, explore its dark corners, and then perhaps, the way outside again will reveal itself.

Originally written on 11.17.14

Aging

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surrender

I am of the nature to grow old, I cannot avoid aging.

Buddha

I feel it more each day, the creaks and groans that emanate from various regions of my body. Injuries and insults I have hurled at myself linger long past the time when inflicted. The morning brings stiffness that demands conscious effort to loosen.

The realization that aging is an intrinsic part of life provokes feelings of sadness; this knowledge gives me the ability to take action, providing the foresight to know that I need to keep living and enjoying the privilege of a mobile and healthy body. I can appreciate the phases my body will go through during this journey with the understanding that each step is just as beautiful as the changing light of the sun as it makes its arc across the sky from dawn and into twilight.

Because the decay of this body is inevitable does not mean I should sit back and wring my hands in anguish. Though the aging process will continue unabated, I can be a part of deciding how it will progress. If I treat my body with kindness and care, it will respond. If I have high expectations of what it can do, it will rise to meet them, despite its protestations. As I surrender to aging I will do it not as a defeated warrior with my head bowed in shame, but as a lover engaged in a heartfelt embrace with bittersweet tears streaming down my face.

First draft originally written 3.30.14

Why I Run: Part 4

Running

Running in standing water

This is part four of a series answering the question of Why I
Run

Running has been humbling recently. I am one week away from the Everglades Ultras and I already feel like I've got a DNF (Did Not Finish). Last week I struggled to finish a 17 mile training run. My exhaustion brought me to tears by my perceived failure. I felt as if I had fallen so far. How could someone who completed a mountainous 100 mile run through thunder and hail struggle so much to finish doing 17 miles on flat terrain? No matter how much I might want to hang on to who I was just 8 months ago, that person is gone. The body I now inhabit is not the same as the one of last summer. Running's latest lesson for me is about impermanence.

When I signed up for The Everglades Ultras, I planned to run the 50 mile version of the race, but I’ve come to realize that just completing the 30 mile variation will be a struggle for me right now. I worked hard for six months preparing to run The Bryce 100. I was focused in my approach to training and got up to run despite the cold of winter, the snow and ice on the ground, or my own desire to just sleep in a little later. My body and mind adapted and got stronger. I changed who I was.

But nothing stays the same, no matter how much we wish that it would. In the months since Bryce, I approached my running as a casual endeavor and when I began preparing for the Everglades Ultras, I allowed a busy schedule and lack of discipline to prevent me from putting in the miles required to be fully prepared. Once again, I changed who I was.

Life is change. Nothing stays still. Everything is in motion, including the composition of our bodies and minds. Everyday the decisions we make affect who we are and how we impact the people and the world around us. Achievements don't last, but fortunately neither do failures. Each moment we have a choice, and those choices effect a change in who we are.

Impermanence can be a disturbing aspect of life, but it also creates new opportunities. We are not stuck with who we are and we can change our situation if we are not satisfied with it. Change will happen regardless of what we do or don't do so we might as well take some responsibility for what direction we move in. To be healthy, we must choose wisely what we put in our mouths and what we do with our bodies. To live a fulfilling life, we must decide how to spend the limited amount of time we are allotted. We can choose to be positive, even when our initial reactions to a situation might dictate otherwise. Each choice, each decision we make causes a change, and over time, these changes help to create who we are.

Are there changes you want to make in your life?

What choices will lead to that change?