I’m not sure what came over me, but I made it out of camp fairly early this morning and hit the trails by 6:15 today. I love running early. I get to avoid noise and congestion and I get to see things for the first time that day from that angle. Before the sun was up, I got to see it rise from a place nobody on Earth got to see it – at least not on that day and not at that time. That sun was all mine. Go get your own.
So today is my wife’s birthday. I know, because my father reminded me at 6:20 this morning. My mother has already told me that she’s the head of the house, but that they all just let me think that I am (which is amusing, because I always assumed it was either my wife or my 4-year-old daughter). Murphy said all this indicates they like her better. I’m pretty sure she’s right.
As I was hiking/jogging (hogging?) through the woods, I talked with Dad for about 20 minutes about things we thought were funny and things we couldn’t change, made us mad, but were still funny nonetheless. I realized that better check in with the birthday girl, so I sang “Happy Birthday” to her as she was trying to wrestle our toddler into clothes for the day. Maggie, the 14-year-old, had already taken off for the bus, but had dutifully given her mother a birthday cookie and card to go along with a cup of coffee. I’m sure the cup of the coffee was the real gift. I distracted them enough, so I let them go and I carried on with my work.
Yep. My work consists of one foot in front of the other. I think I mean that in a metaphorical sense as well as a literal one. My job, if you will, is to keep going. It’s so easy and yet so hard. I do it out of habit most days. I keep moving, because I’ve always kept moving. Until I couldn’t. Or, until they wouldn’t let me.
I’m not saying we’re like sharks. We don’t need constant motion, physical or otherwise, to survive. There’s definitely a sincere value – maybe even a necessity – for stillness. I don’t think it’s our natural state though. And when life is chasing you more than usual, move. Stay ahead of it.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m no guru. No savant. No prophet, psychiatrist, astrologer, civil engineer nor even a sports bookie. I can’t see into the future. Our actions or inactions have consequences, and I can’t even tell you which direction you need to go. I feel confident, however that not moving forward gets you nowhere.
It seems to me that moving forward in a purely physical sense should make sense. If you have feet (and it’s possible you do not), take one. Put it in front of the other. Then take the foot that did not move, and move it front of the foot that just moved. Now you’re getting somewhere. And you’re making change. You’re creating connections. You’re making inroads to a better quality of life.
No feet? We can work with that. Keep moving forward.
But metaphorically, how do you keep moving forward? As I said, I don’t have all answers for everybody. I’m not that guy, unfortunately.
But I have ideas.
Find somebody to help, whether less fortunate or not. Help them.
Find something about somebody (anybody) that makes them happy. Do it. Make them happy.
Talk to somebody. Don’t like people? Then send them an email. Don’t like computers? Write them a letter.
I think you get the gist. Move mountains. Shake the world. Step into a new you.
These are the things I tell myself every day. Every. Day.
I get up before 5am every morning. I put on my running shorts, then my shirt. I brush my teeth. I eat 2 eggs, a banana, a cup of water and drink a cup of coffee. I stretch. I put on my socks and shoes. I slather myself in sunscreen. I put my hat and sunglasses on. I fill up my hydration pack. I walk out the door. I run. I think. I live. I make a difference. Then I make an inane Instagram video, not because I like talking to my phone in the middle of the woods or to show off my scraggly beard. I do it to remind me why I’m doing this.
Now that I went there, let’s leave the land of woo woo, and return to the snarky musings of a slower-than-I’d-like runner.
There were hills. There were dales. There were dusty trails. But the caissons went rolling along. And then there was a cemetery in the woods. I can’t tell you any more about it. It was just there. Slightly out-of-place and a little sad.
I traveled around the lake, running in and out of its fingers not seeming to make too terribly much western progress, but the view was nice. I ran across some abandoned barns, and the tools associated with barns. When I popped out I saw not one but two friendly faces! Dean always seems to be happiest when I’m not the only person he sees during my daily run, and the smiling face next to him belonged to my friend Mary Eliza. She flew all the way to the trail from… well I guess she lives in Raleigh. But, still… It was great to see her. We spent too long catching up before, I realized I better get moving. I shooed her in the opposite direction and I dove back into the woods.
I was not too terribly far from the campsite when I ran into a snag. Well, a creek, really. Without a bridge. The bridge appeared to have steps on both sides of the high and deep creek which was about 15 feet wide, but it was missing the crucial middle part, that allowed for the bridge-user to not get wet. On further inspection, I discovered that lots of lovely timber pieces were ready for installation on the opposite bank.
I tested the depth, but quickly realized that if I were to wade into the murky still water it would come up over my waist. Since these were likely shark-infested waters, I figured I best not risk it. After chasing my tail for several minutes, I discovered a bouncy fallen tree about 30 yards downstream that seemed to connect the two banks. I tested the bounciness and solidness before stepping onto the log. It was definitely solid. And definitely bouncy. Putting on my best determined face, I stepped gingerly. I crouched low with my hands straight out to my sides, like I was playing airplane and I was strafing the enemies planes as they lay on the ground. I didn’t make the noises though.
About a third of the way across, I discovered that somebody must have had this idea before me because long tree branch that had apparently been used as a walking pole, was leaned against the log. I carefully scooted my hand down the shaft until I could safely use it to balance against. After two movements and six shuffle-steps, I was across and gave a thumbs up selfie just to prove it.
About a mile before the end of the trail, Dean caught up with me and guided me to civilization. I shuffled to tomorrow’s trailhead, climbed into the car, and headed for the RV. Ice Me.
When life is chasing you more than usual, move. Stay ahead of it. Keep moving forward.