I wrote this almost three years ago. I’m grateful to SparkPeople for hosting it in its original place despite my lack of activity there.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I’ve ended a romance that wasn’t bound anywhere special, and I’ll take my chances with the unknown. But I’m dreading it. I went for a run the day he cancelled a date because he was feeling “sulky” and “stressed out” that he’d just realized he had made no time for me over the holidays–no time for 5 weeks over December and January. I ended it politely, nicely. I went for a 5.5 mile run right away, feeling very empowered that I had a healthful way to deal with my sadness. I stopped and cried for only 30 seconds in a short stretch of woods after the thought “You’re nothing special” had tracked across my mind like a bit of news on the ticker tape. I remembered that it was just a thought, a habit of bad thinking, and to not attach myself to it. I took a breath and continued on. I finished the run, which put me in such better spirits. In the weeks since the end of that romance, I’ve thought about why I, and others in my boat, are filled with the dread of a lonely future when a relationship ends. Rationally, we know we’ll meet others, and maybe feel hopeful enthusiasm. But I think there’s a sense of dread at the idea of one ultimately meaningless connection after another. A collage of borrowed trouble images of nights spent in Barnes and Noble staring at book racks, noticing that one is not being noticed by anyone. Of night after night doing sudoku in bed in ugly pajamas.
I had an insight, though, during a run last week during a bitter cold day. I had dreaded the run. I pictured the wind biting my face, cold pressing through my clothes into my ribcage, the awkward steps over the ridgy, icy snowpack, the smells of the auto exhaust and salt on the roads, with no other smells to compete and suppress them.
What I hadn’t anticipated was the beautiful quiet except for my breathing once I got into the woods. The flash of a cardinal, the startlement of a plump little junco. The warm smile and nod of a lady walking through the woods all bundled up in a bright blue coat. The recognition and wave of another runner I see on the trail each day. And the wonderful warmth that suffused my own body as I made my way through the run. The warmth from the living itself, and from the happy and mostly-kind thoughts that just seem to come so easily to me when I get into my runs.
I realized that facing the unknown in our lives when we’ve had a loss can be so much like facing a run in bad weather. I thought it would be cold, lonely, painful, unpleasant. But as you move through it, as you move through life, the fact is that it will warm you and carry you along. The love of life, and the love of being alive will warm us as we go. Just keep moving through life. The endless frozen void is just a made-up Neverland–it is not out there before you. Truly. I’m strapping on my shoes and going out to meet the unexpected pleasures of living among my fellow human beings.