Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Taking Inventory and Finding the Meaning of Life

With less than two weeks left before I run my first marathon, I am counting my blessings.

Alone, but not lonely
Running gives me ample time to think, and to be alone with my thoughts. When I am alone with my thoughts, I am quiet (those that know me will testify that this is rare). When I am quiet, I am aware of a lifetime of experiences and people. When I pay attention to my thoughts and memories, I become overwhelmingly grateful for every step I take and every step or mis-step I have taken. While I run, even the mis-steps lend meaning to the woman I have become. I can forgive myself and others and I can appreciate that all of it has importance; that all things had to be the way they were in order for things to be the way they are.

When I head out the door on any run, the first 3-4 kilometers usually feels less than great, so right away I find that my mind has to find something else to think about. If I can preoccupy my brain for 20 minutes or so, I can get warmed up without focusing on every little detail that doesn't feel right. Like all things, practice makes perfect and this is no different. For months I  have practiced thinking about the weather, the trees, the birds and the people that have come, gone and stayed.

I think about my childhood best friend Tara Murphy and the fun we used to have, all while being tied to each other's hip.From that friendship I learned that connection made me confident. There was at least one person in the world that thought of much of me as I did of her and it didn't really matter if no one else liked me.

Beautiful countryside
Mrs. Jeremy was my grade eight teacher and she taught me that I could do math (she was a smart lady and right about a lot of things, but I still don't really 'get it' when it comes to math). I think about how frustrating it must have been to teach me algebra and that I really should thank her. Unfortunately, she died not long ago.

My Grandma Betty lands in my thoughts. She has always been there for me which is why I try to excuse the moments she tells me she doesn't like my hair or my cooking, or I'm gonna have a heart attack from all that running or I don't pay enough attention to her since I got that new job. I will always be there for her, it's just not always by her agenda which has made me realize that 'No' is a perfectly acceptable answer when it comes to making myself happy.

I always think about my Mom. Many things have shaped me, but none of them have been as impactful as my Mom. I am all the things I am because of her. The longer I live, the more people tell me how much I am like her. She never believed she was beautiful or smart or talented or strong, yet those are the things that I am. How did she teach me those things and not believe them of herself. I like to imagine that if she had lived longer, she would have seen herself in me, as others do and maybe she would have believed she was those things too.

When I run, I take stock of what people mean to me. I am content with the people who have come into my life and have gone for one reason or another, just as I am with those who have stuck around. We aren't all meant to play the lead role, sometimes we have supporting roles, and sometimes we are walk-ons or extras, but it's all worthy and worthwhile. These things are so clear to me once I get my mind off my IT band or my tight calf.

Through running, I have uncovered the meaning of life for me and it is "connection".
If you have touched my life, whether it has been in a starring role or as an extra, you are valuable to me. I can say this because I have spent many hours and kilometers taking inventory of my relationships and without them I have nothing worth remembering. Any event I can think of simultaneously brings to mind the person I shared that moment with.

October 20th and the Scotia Toronto Waterfront Marathon is fast approaching, yet it won't hurry up and get here. On that day, think of me, running my first of many marathons as I will no doubt
be thinking of you :)

You can also watch a live stream of the race starting at 0815 on October 20
www.stwm.ca and click on CBC

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