Friday, July 20, 2012

I Can Do What I'm Doing


I can't keep up. These guys are killing me. Would they notice if I just stopped and tried walking back to the car? I can not keep up. 

These were my thoughts as I ran the trails this morning. A friend introduced me to them a couple weeks back and every Friday since I have gotten out the door at ten minutes to five and met him at the trailhead above Skytop. This morning my neighbor came along and we set out in the usual way: my friend in the lead, my neighbor behind him, and me bringing up the rear. I'm not a blob but I'm not fast. On the trails, I'm always at the back of the line.

As we ran, I kept falling back and then having to work up the energy for a little sprint to catch back on to the back end of the line. At times I could only make out my friend's tail light (on the back of his headlamp) blinking red around the next bend. I pulled back in line each time and never lost them. And then suddenly we were back at the parking lot and it was done.

Some things come to mind now, others came to mind then. In the mish-mash of all these thoughts are a couple things worth remembering, but to get there I have to rewind to last night.

I had a tough time of it yesterday. I got into some heavy duty stuff at therapy and it put me deep inside my head. I found it hard to enjoy much of anything yesterday, though I was able to have a great talk with my youngest daughter who is also prone to living deep in the anxious parts of her brain. It was just a tough day.

So when it came time to write my 750 words, I was putting it off and looking at political news. That can't help. Sure enough, I wrote an angry tirade about how I'm going to vote for Mayor Quimby. I went to bed still upset and had a so-so night of sleep.

Waking this morning, my first thought was that I wished for an escape clause from running. I didn't have one though. I had promised my neighbor a ride and told my friend I would be there. Damn it. So I got up, got ready, and drove my neighbor up to the trailhead.

Out on the run I had the thoughts with which I started this essay. I was filled with doubt just as I had been the night before. I was sure of only one thing: I couldn't do what I was doing.

Thinking that thought, word for word, is what snapped me out of it. I really did say to myself that I couldn't do what I was doing and yet there I was doing it. Sure, I was falling off the back of the pace, but I wasn't losing touch with the two of them. Yeah, they were having a long running conversation and I was gasping for air, but I could still hear their conversation. It turned out that I really was doing the thing that I was doing and that seemed proof that I could indeed do it.

Crazy.

This was a couple miles into the run. I was tired by this point, my legs weren't feeling strong, my breath was coming hard, and so on, but my mind turned around at that point. It's more like my brain turned inside out. All that darkness that was out in front got folded deep down and I had a brighter way of seeing things.

At that very moment in the run, I looked up and said, "hey, guys. Deer."

A gorgeous doe stood twenty feet from us as we trotted by. She looked at us, I looked at her. She went on about her business and we went on up the trail.

It's easy to get depressed. There are lots of reasons for it. There are lots of things that feel as if they are waiting out there to drag me down into it. And there are very few ways to come back up out of it. I don't believe in mind over matter when it comes to depression, but I do believe that there are ropes thrown down into the hole that I can choose to grab hold of.

There is also the moment when the depression shows itself to be ridiculous. "I can't do what I'm doing." Then I get to laugh at the darkness, take another step forward, look ahead at the guys in front of me and see that they are pulling me along, not running away. Looking back down at the trail, I watch for rocks and roots. I check my breathing. And I say to myself (I kid you not), "write on, man, write on."