I’ve discovered my calling. Wait for it. I’m going to publish a book touting a new half-marathon training regimen that involves three things: no training, a dinner consisting of beers and burgers, followed by 45 minutes of sleep. Because it worked for me. Waiting in Central Park for the gun at 6:30am, I didn’t expect to run my best time. And I didn’t even push myself physically (emotionally is a different story). With breaks and constant replenishment, we came in ahead of schedule and even sprinted the last 200m. The knees held up and my eyelids were the only things aching.
It’s amazing what we ask of our bodies, and how often they come through for us in the clutch. Maybe I’m asking too much of my heart…to feel stronger than two weeks ago when I moved in to this apartment. Than a month ago when I had my heart broken. But I don’t feel stronger, and I don’t feel different. Yes, I am able to get through my days with plenty of smiles and laughter, but there is never a moment where the pain has lessened. It’s all smoke and mirrors, people.
In my pursuit of happiness, I watched an interesting clip on TED.com – a discussion from Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman on happiness. He asks the questions: do we know when we are happy? Do we think we are not when we really are? And do we think we are when we are really not… Without going into too much detail, he told the story of a man who was enjoying a glorious symphony, only to have it end with a screeching sound. The man then described the sound as ruining the whole experience. But he had loved the music so fully up until that point – what the screech had ruined was the memory of that experience. He had had twenty minutes of glorious music, but it counted for nothing to him. All he came away with was a bad memory.
I think we do this all the time. We have such good experiences, but we decide what we come away with. Something can be fantastic 90% of the time, but it’s the 10%, that last screeching sound, that we remember. It’s this sound on which we base our decisions. It’s truly sad to live that way, to live that 10%. If only we saw the 90% for what it was. Everything.
At 5:30am on Sunday, I made the decision to stay in bed and not run that race. But I also knew in my heart that I would not feel better having done so. My thoughts had kept me up for a tortuous night. The option to lie there for another minute, to have those crippling thoughts continue, was not an option. I’ve had a really emotional day with intense highs (sprinting to the finish line to cheers from the crowd) and intense lows (um, right now), and it’s times like this that make me question if I’m getting better. I can’t say I’m healing…I oddly I may be getting worse, despite filling my days with work, school, friends, furnishing my new place, running thirteen miles. Maybe I’m not giving myself credit…maybe I’m strong 90% of the day, but I’m focusing on my sad 10%.
It could be that the path to healing begins on a brisk Sunday morning in Central Park, with 12,000 others. It could mean lacing up your shoes when you don’t want to, and accomplishing more than you thought you could. Maybe it does literally begin with a single step, one that you have no choice but to make. So you just go.