Sunday, March 4, 2012

Friendship


Had a lovely chat yesterday with a friend that put me in a healthy and good uncomfortable position. I like how contrary that sounds because it hints at what I was feeling which was all sorts of conflict. First, a bit of background.

I got out for a nice long run yesterday with a bunch of friends. The temperature was way up in the high fifties, low forties, but there was a massive wind. Still it was easy to get out the door and run a mile down the road to the house where we were all meeting. Soon enough, we were out for a good run. I started up front with my friend Scott, the only other guy in the group, and we talked about the usual things we talk about on the run. You know, family, work, our vasectomies, the usual. It was great.

Then, for a while I was running with his wife, Kristin and Jess and Margaret, mostly listening to them as they talked. I've learned a lot about listening while on runs with people. I'm starting to be comfortable with the idea that I don't have to speak much, don't have to be noticed. I don't have to perform.

Next, I noticed that one of our group, Karen, who is struggling with a pain in the back of one thigh, had drifted back. I slowed up and ran with her. She's about as interesting to talk with as anyone as she makes me laugh but then can be serious in the next sentence. I find myself asking questions just to get her to tell me more.

With just a few miles left, I paired up with Kristin again, but this time on our own. She has been reading here about how I hadn't been running, how I had felt myself fall into an emotional and she's comfortable enough to mention things. She started asking me questions about how I was doing. My first reaction at times such as these is to say, "I'm fine," because I've been trained well not to admit any problems. Today, I curbed that tendency and tried to say instead what was really happening. I told her that, yeah, I had been having a bunch of troubles. That was the first discomfort.

The second came when Kristin offered to help me. She suggested that I could check in with her about running and she could check up on me. She even explained how she didn't want it to go -- that she didn't want it to be a pressure situation but more of a friendly reminder. This was very uncomfortable to me. I mean, just think of it, a friend was offering to help me. Heaven forbid!

This is the kind of discomfort that I need in my life. I need to get used to the idea of someone wanting to help me and used to the idea that I am not doing this all by myself. It's good for me because it's a stretch. I haven't always done well by myself, though I'm happy with the things that I can accomplish on my own. When I'm in trouble I need help.

I see a therapist once a week. I write about my life and publish it every day. I rely more than ever on the loving care and understanding given me by my wife. Why shouldn't I also depend on friends who want to help me and accept their kindness? It's a generous thing to say, Yes, please.

So, I know Kristin will read this and my public answer is this: Yes, please. I'll keep you posted about what I'm doing in my running because running has become such a good barometer of how other things are going on in my life. I'll also maybe sit you down sometime to talk about what we want to do with our lives. We both are in periods of transition and transformation. That's exciting and it's also stressful and unnerving. It's scary. Things aren't as frightening when we get to do them with a friend.

I ran yesterday, put in eight and a half miles. I ran barefoot for the first time in a while and between the mileage and all the time off I have reduced my left foot a little bit to hamburger. I'm typing this with that left foot resting on an ice pack and wondering what it will feel like on the next run. Whatever the case, it will be better than not running and feeling depressed. It will be better to be out on the road supported by friends.

Write on.