Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Things I Know Are Right


I spoke with my therapist for our weekly appointment yesterday. After I mentioned that something had worked for me I said, "yet again I reluctantly admit that something you told me a year ago turns out to be right." It's an old joke between us that most of the things we come to understand in our sessions take weeks if not months to make it into my practice. I know they are probably right when we first talk of them but often I can't make sense of them yet. Then I make sense of them, sensing even more than ever that they are right, but can't seem to make it happen in my life. Finally, almost by accident or through sheer repetition, I integrate the idea into my life and it turns out to be a great way to go. I guess, in therapy, I'm that kid who just can't learn right away. I fail the test but then, later in the school year, I have all the answers. So it goes.

I'm like that with another thing that I've been working on for about eight months: running in the morning. Two years ago, I belonged to the local Y and would be at their door at 5:30 each morning to get in and work out. The price of the Y membership went above my threshold and I was also running more, so I dropped out of the place and set about running instead. But I found that I had more and more trouble getting myself out of bed. I couldn't sleep well enough to wake rested. I couldn't get to bed early enough to wake up without an alarm. And I tended to turn off the alarm and wish it away. All of this left me frustrated and confused. It has been like that through yesterday.

In fact, yesterday morning is a perfect example of what was happening. I went to bed early the night before, slept well, work at 4:15 feeling reasonably well-rested and ready to go. Except I didn't go. I lay there in bed and thought about getting up, told myself to get up, wished myself out of bed, but didn't get up. I wanted to get up, but for whatever reason felt that I couldn't. It was warm in bed. It was comfortable. It was me not running and that felt...safe, I guess.

Still, just as I knew at the time, I got up later and felt nothing but disappointed that I hadn't run. I knew that I wanted the energy boost I feel from running. I knew that I wanted to feel healthy going into the day. Instead, I felt physically and mentally and emotionally unhealthy. Poor, poor me.

Last night, thinking of Leo Babauta's zenhabits.net column "The Rut & the Way Out," I simply announced to myself that I would run the next morning. I set only one alarm (as opposed to the early running alarm and the later safety alarm). I set out my clothes. I decided. And for whatever reason, this morning, I woke before the alarm, lay there for a few moments, and then got up and went for a run. It was hard. It really was hard to get up out of bed. But then, once I had put one foot on the floor, everything was easy.

My therapist and I talk about this sort of thing often and it's one of those things that I know is right but still have had such trouble accomplishing. I know that I feel great when I run in the morning. I know that I feel better getting up early and running than I ever have lying in. I know that it is a good thing, but there is an inertial force originating in my brain that I have trouble overcoming.

I wonder how many other things there are in my life that I know are good for me but resist in favor of doing nothing. Writing for sure is good for me, but I don't have much trouble making that happen. Going out with friends--arranging adult play-dates--is tougher for me but always works out well. Taking time out of the schedule to get my daughters kicking a soccer ball often seems like too much to arrange, but it's always good. And just holding my wife is enough to make any day as good as can be. It's simply a matter of trusting in the rightness, the goodness of these things and trusting too that they will carry me through that inertial malaise. If I can begin to trust in these things it might not take me weeks and months to learn.

Write on.

Today is the birthday of my best friend, Chris, who I have known for all his and my 43 years. Happy Birthday, man.