September 18, 2013

we're closer now than we've ever been

Once upon a time I participated with some of my fun-loving friends in an event called the Ugly Sweater Run, a 5k where tacky garb was the name of the game and a mustache was included in the actual race packet. Add that to the fact that the entry fee could be purchased through Groupon, and they were just plain speaking my language. I figured, sure I don't necessarily run, but how strenuous a race can it be if the finish line feeds right into a beer line? I remember asking my friends as we collectively bought the Groupons, how many Zumba classes do you think it takes to train for a 5k? We laughed, and no one really answered my question - I think assuming I was joking, which I was not - but whatever. I clicked purchase and hoped for the best.

It did end up being fun, I'll say that. I wouldn't say I was so much trained as I was vaguely in good enough shape to make my ponytail bounce for 3ish miles, but it all worked out. One of my dear pals, an encourager by birth, repeated something to us over and over, like a mantra, whilst we plodded along the path. Every few minutes she'd turn and say to us,

You guys. We're closer now than we've ever been.

I highly suggest including her in all of your future fitness endeavors if only to say that to you over and over. It was the best. First of all it made me laugh a lot, which maybe made the running part harder, but always a useful trick to getting through a thing which is working to sap you of all life and energy. And second of all, I mean, I don't know if you've ever run a 5k when you haven't run in over a... while, but it's not as easy as it sounds, and those 7 words were the ultimate comfort to me. I was determined to run as much as I could, so giving up wasn't an option. The only comfort to be found was that at any given moment, we were closer than we'd ever been.

Before I bring this beautiful metaphor full circle, let me say that I am fully aware life isn't quite as simple as a 5k. Mostly in that if you get lost or aren't sure what to do in the general life sense, there aren't typically arrows spray-painted on the sidewalk showing you where you need to turn. Sometimes those arrows can be pretty faded though, and in those cases maybe the analogy is a little stronger. Point being, I can't begin to tell you how much comfort there was in the sentiment of being farther than we'd ever been. We were moving forward, and that was enough. Sometimes that's all I've got. I'm farther today than I was yesterday. And that is something.

There may be times when I look back and see I was maybe spending some time moving backwards, or I may feel that for a while I was a bit more stagnant than I'd like. But for the most part, I'm moving, if slowly. And hopefully there are people in your life too, who when you are gasping for breath and wearing a flannel nightgown sinched at the waist by a fanny pack, will run right beside you and remind you as you go, 

Hey. You're farther now than you've ever been.

At which point you will pick up the pace (if but for a moment, meanwhile swearing up and down you will attend more Zumba classes per week from now on), and keep on keeping on.

And here's some bonus advice, on the house:

Surround yourself with people who not only encourage you, but who make you laugh a lot, especially when stuff is hard. If you're anything like me, you'll also need people who will appreciate how funny it is when in your exhaustion you pull your reindeer hat over your face and put aviators on it. Or at the very least, people who will stick by your side in spite of it.


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