Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Blog the Fourteenth: What's In a Name?

When I started this blog over the summer, "Running With Shadows" wasn't just a cool name that was supposed to reflect my "darkity-darkness".   In many ways, it IS reflective of my life perspective:  in this world, we can never really run away from our shadows, or outrun them.  Often, we're forced to run with our shadows, pacing them, never quite gaining...but never giving in to them as we continue to run our part in the Great Race.

However, this title has a literal meaning that comes back into effect today.  Last year I took to running in a big way.  During my college basketball career, running was a reluctant necessity, something a mid-sized white guy who couldn't jump had to do all summer just to compete during the year.  After basketball ended I continued to workout  - mostly weights - and play pickup basketball, but run by choice?

No way.

Last year, however, stress REALLY slammed into me at the start of the year.  Sending our two year old to an all-day, five day a week school in which he took NO nap and had to ride on a bus, sending Madison to Pre-K, dealing with the reality that my son was AUTISTIC, and on top of that: usual school business, gearing myself up every day NOT to fail in front of my students and peers.  

We couldn't afford anything and couldn't pay our bills because Abby couldn't work as much because of Zack's school hours, we struggled to stay afloat financially. That...and my grad school progress sputtered.  Stalled.  Let's be failed.  I burned out and had to drop all my classes.

Through this, I found running.  At first after school around the football field, which students must have thought quite the sight: their 36 year old, 6'4" 230 lb English teacher lumbering around after school.  As it got colder, however, I began getting to school early in the morning (hey, I was already up, right?) around 6:15, and after lifting weights in the weight room, I ran laps around the gym.

In the dark.  Cloaked by shadow.

And I fell in love with it.  

Now don't get me wrong.  At my peak, I ran 4 miles a WEEK.  But still, I kept at it.  My energy spiked to unbelievable levels.  I lost weight.  I wrote TONS. 

And I beat back the pain.  See, pain exists for many reasons: to teach, to punish, to nurture, to mature, to remind.  In my youthful arrogance, I'm going to say this also:  pain exists to be beaten.

And I mean this literally as well as figuratively.  The irony?  I have really bad feet.  My left arch is 90% collapsed.  The right arch, 75%.  They hurt, almost all the time.

And still I ran.  Through the pain.  Made it my friend, even.

Pain exists to be beaten.

Very arrogant, to be sure.  I'll grow old someday, and then the pain will beat ME.  For now, however...I get to beat on the pain, 24 laps around the gym, three times a week.  After that, everything else seems manageable. 

Time to beat some pain, today, running with the shadows.