Hard to believe you’re here.
Not going to lie, I am more wary of what you have to offer than I have ever been in my entire life.
And yet…here we are.
I have been trying to write out my thoughts for weeks now — months really, but it has felt like the most intense game of “whack-a-mole,” throwing a sentence at the page here and there in hopes of them all magically coming together. As if I was playing the most epic game of Mad Libs.
Recently, I finally found time to sit down and really write…only because I was sidelined with the flu and missing a much anticipated life-planning workshop.
The irony is not lost on me.
The end of 2016 took a turn for the chaotic, but the break in writing is bigger than that. Something broke last year. Not a bone that needs time to mend or a wound that can be fixed with stitches. There wasn’t one sudden accident or moment of klutzy behavior that turned into a medical bill. This break was a slow, gradual splintering. So snail-like, in fact, that it took me quite some time to figure out it was broken in the first place. Like fragile petals of a complex rose, the pieces fell off one by one, until all of a sudden, it was no longer a rose.
As I draw closer to the 7 year anniversary of my driven, energetic self taking an unexpected turn from the race course to the couch, I think my petals may have all but fallen off.
And I feel bare, confused, and unexpectedly fragile.
As the years have soldiered on, it has become harder and harder to tread water. After a while, my legs just can’t egg-beater kick in the same place much longer — they are tired of spinning in circles, all while never moving an inch, and looking at the same thing day after day after day after day.
For whatever reason, be it age, or the state of the country, or the circling of the cosmos (cough cough, probably the state of the country), 2016 was a year of thought. Deep, honest, at times soul-crushing introspection, that brought my typically even-keeled self to tears.
I’m not a crier, so this was more than a little bewildering to me, but I’m learning that these weird rivulets of water that sporadically appear on my cheeks can be cathartic, and even revealing.
Turns out my tears are not for what I have lost, rather they are because I AM lost. Somewhere in the midst of being a medical and genetic anomaly, my identity drifted further and further away from my desperately kicking legs.
And friends, after much cogitation, and yes, perhaps a few tears, I think it’s time to stop treading water and get out of the damn pool.
Like a shattered mug, you can only glue it together so many times before it changes into a pen holder on your desk. The pieces are the same, but it serves a new purpose. It started as one thing, but surprisingly changed to something else.
I am not the same person I was 7 years ago.
I’ve changed in ways I never could have imagined or expected.
The elements of life that were my defining characteristics have spent years on the hold list, and I think it’s time to move them into the archives and check out something new.
Someone recently asked me what I liked to do for fun. I froze. As I stammered out something probably incomprehensible, my mind was spinning with the fact that I have NO idea how to answer that question.
Uhhhh, cook food that I don’t eat? Attend my husband and friends’ races and events? Add items to the grocery list while wearing athlesiure??
This narrative is mine. I didn’t choose it, but I get to write it, and treading water with the same stagnant hopes and dreams is a pretty boring story.
Several years ago, during a particularly challenging time medically, a friend gave me a bracelet that reads “Be Brave.” While deeply appreciated and thoughtful, the truth is that getting through medical times doesn’t seem brave to me. If I have to have surgery, I do it and follow the necessary steps to recover. If I end up sidelined by a new malfunctioning body part, I take time to adapt and heal the best I can. It’s not brave, it’s just doing what needs to be done, even when it’s not easy. I can follow a do and don’t list like my life depends on it…because it does.
But getting out of the pool and facing the fact that I am never going back to the life I left, in any way, shape, or form? Standing up for what I believe in for myself and for my country? Looking at the world through tired lenses, and realizing that if I want change, it has to come from me?
That, my friends, is hard. I need a whole lot of brave there.
My furry sidekick recently hurt his toe, so much so that he couldn’t put any weight on it for a while. He never cried or sulked, he merely switched from running around on 4 paws to running around on 3. He didn’t give a second thought to resuming his life without the use of one of his toes, he just got up and kept on living (all while his parents frantically tried to keep him “quiet.”) Who knew a 7-month-old puppy could be so wise?
I don’t know what comes next, for me or for my country, but I know that it’s up to me to find out. The choice is, and always has been, mine. It’s time to stop waiting and time to start doing. If I want to find a new passion, I must be passionate in my pursuit to find it.
(Though let’s be clear that underwater basketweaving better be done in warm water or I’m out of there.)
I know that if I want my world to be light, I have to be the light, and bring the light, and share the light. I cannot expect it to come to me. Even when it’s hard.
Especially when it’s hard.
It’s time to get out of the pool, friends.
I’ve got another chapter to write.
Be the light.