Today I went on a run for the first time in… quite some time, let’s leave it at that. The sun shone, the air was crisp, and I had a full day of work ahead of me. But I ached to blast some Adele and take on the six-mile loop.
As I walked to the Park, an old woman decked to the nines in a fur coat, stood beside me at a stoplight. When I saw her mouth move in my direction, I pulled my earphones out.
“What do you weigh?” and then she guessed a number that was dead on to my actual weight.
“Yes, that’s exactly what I weigh. How did you know that?”
“I used to look like you. Fit and ready to take on the world. You going for a walk?”
“A run in the park, actually.”
She laughed. “Ah, you remind me of the girl I once was. Spirited!”
As the light changed, I jogged forward, smiling, wishing her a good day, and yelled back to her that she still was. Spirited. She fingered her austere pearls absent-mindedly, and giggled.
As I ran up the hills of the park, every twenty feet or so, I saw chalk spelling out ‘Become Your Dream” on the pavement that I pounded on. It has been almost a year since I saw this inscription, and it made me smile. A lot had happened since the last time I saw those words, on the day I moved into my Upper East Side studio. It acted as a reminder to me to stay curious about my life – to leave the road most often traveled and my days of stability behind me as I make some difficult decisions these next few months.
Years ago, I considered myself to be a pessimist, and then, realizing that term did not define me at all, I thought myself a “realist.” Far from being a Pollyanna, I’ve realized my character is closer to who writer Paul Haggis describes as a “cynical optimist.” I feel sincere excitement in things again – whether it’s diving into my online French course, or reading about Scientology (don’t be frightened, I am not becoming a scientologist. But let face it, who’s more interesting than a group of people who think that 75 million years ago, planet Earth was called Teegeeack, one of 90 planets under a ruler named Xenu? Isn’t that awesome? You just can’t make this stuff up… unless your L.Ron Hubbard of course).
Today, I also framed six more 8×10 photographs that I’ve taken on my travels to Italy and Mendocino, that will join my San Francisco and Napa collection already hung in their mahogany frames. Placing all of them in their shiny new homes, I am proud of the places I have been and am anticipating the places I have still to unearth.
I am so grateful to those in my life who have encouraged me daily to understand the gravity of listening, that having strong character is something to be proud of, and that emoting innate kindness is not a sign of weakness, but unconscious surrender.
Yes, it would really, really be nice to be one hundred percent certain that everything was going to turn out just fine. That what lies ahead would be simply great…perfectly perfect, in all its imperfection. No one can know for sure – but it doesn’t hurt that I am surrounded by those who believe in me more than I ever could alone. And it’s a gift to know that I don’t need to wait for a time when I look back on this point in my life and feel gratitude for self-awareness, spirit, and those around me.