06 February, 2013

MORE different

I started the morning, in the same way that I start all of my mornings, eager to hit the ground running. I buckled the collar around my dog's neck, fastened the leash, slipped on my running sneakers, tied my laces quickly and away I went. “C’mon girl, let’s go see what the world has for us today!” I said enthusiastically to my dog, while she wagged her tail happily in response. She loves to go out in the cool morning air, before the day heats up and becomes too unbearably hot for a shaggy, thick-haired dog. While nothing seemed immediately wrong or out-of-place; I felt a bit awkward, a little sluggish and well, I was moving slower than usual. Something had changed and as I ran outside into the morning sunshine, it seemed as if the very air surrounding me had also changed.


I couldn’t put my finger on it but it was a nagging feeling, sort of like a cramp in my side, that refuses to go away, no matter how much you try to get rid of it. The farther I ran, the more bothered I became.


I quickly sorted through all the odds and ends, bits and pieces of various thoughts I was holding in my mind, pulling and pushing all of the stuff up there, hoping to find whatever it was, that had me a bit “out-of-sorts” this morning. I love to run. The first fifteen or twenty minutes are usually the most difficult, as I work to find a comfortable rhythm. However, once I get past that point, I feel like I can run forever and my mind just opens up to reveal a world of thoughts, that I would never know otherwise. It's one of the unexpected benefits of prolonged exercise outdoors, which forces your attention away from screaming cell phones, computers, Blackberrys and any other type of machine demanding immediate attention, leaving no time to really think about anything but reacting to the present crisis.

For longer than I care to admit, my mind has been dominated by the anxiety generated by tough economic times. More and more, the responsibilities I shoulder have become more than overwhelming and sometimes, I feel on the verge of collapse. I am tired. It is in times like these, when the quiet time spent with myself, helps me in managing this stress to a level that I can deal with. "I thought 2012 was an especially tough year, just as I thought that 2011 was more challenging than any year I have faced. It doesn't get any better, it just gets harder. I need a break." I said out loud. Despite some encouraging signs from the stock market, 2013 is already shaping up to be an especially grueling year. The struggling economy is changing the face of most everything I have known. "Jesus, we are closer to $4 a gallon for gasoline than we were two weeks ago" I said out loud, as I ran past our local gas station.  It really wasn’t that long ago when I could, with twenty dollars in my pocket, fill up my gas tank and even get some change back.  The hard reality is that we are living in times which force you to do less


was definitely having an impact upon my life. Usually, when one part of my life becomes especially challenging, I can count on finding some relief in another part of my life. The new phenomenon is that it is all much harder now, not even in the parts of my life which used to rejuvenate me. I am finding everything to be so...difficult. Did I just wake up one morning to find that I had been reprogrammed during the night and that I was completely out-of-sync with the person I have been?

 “What is going on?”

I asked myself,

“and how do I change this and make it better?”

My mind became quiet, focusing on the sounds that my running feet were making on the asphalt road,


The longer I run, the more I think. And the more I think, the more my mind wanders and the more it wanders, the more I think. There's a lot of freedom in letting your mind wander and some of my best ideas come during this time. One minute is spent thinking about something at work, then in another moment I am thinking about the car payment that I should have mailed or an issue that is going on with one of the kids and just before my head blows up, I start to think about horses.


I love horses. I am consumed in every living cell of my being by horses. Horses are my safe spot. No matter how much my life changes, horses remain the one part of me, that never changes. Sometimes, I think of race horses like Affirmed and Alydar. I admire these two champions and I think about all of their races and how great each horse was. Affirmed and Alydar raced ten times against each other, with Affirmed winning seven of those races. Had they been born one year apart, we would have had back-to-back Triple Crown winners but then, we would have been cheated from witnessing the most intense and longest-running rivalry that  horse racing has ever known. Thinking about these two horses helps me to run faster and stronger. I imagine myself to be Affirmed, with Alydar hot on my heels, waiting for just the right sliver of an opportunity to pass me and "win" the race. Mile-after-mile, this imagined race progresses, while influencing my stride and I can feel my legs stretch out a little farther, the tempo picks up a little quicker, as the ground flies underneath my feet.

But today, I don't think of Affirmed and Alydar. And that's my problem. 

I figured it out.

Today, I am thinking about "less" and unfortunately, as is often the case with thinking "less", you really end up with "less". I don't like living under heavy thoughts, thinking about things that make me so unhappy. I need to get back to where I once was, when life offered so much more.  So, as I head back for home, I resolve to not dwell on "less" but think about "more", a lot "more". Maybe this is where I do need to be more like Affirmed. When he was challenged by Alydar, he found "more" and delivered "more". He became our last Triple Crown winner and one of the greatest racehorses of all time because he was MORE.

But wait a minute, 

what about the lesson Alydar taught us? Although Alydar remained in second place, race-after-race; Alydar also found "more" and in the process, taught me something about hope. In every race he ran, he believed he would win and ran a race worthy of that win. He gave it all he had, just as I need to give it all I have, in order to get to the place called "more". Maybe, that's why I need to think of horses more, as it always seems that life's greatest lessons, always have a horse in it.


1 comment:

Monica Respet said...

WOW, Ralph, you inspire me with your thoughts!