Coming off big races, I often find myself suffering from the inexplicable hangover that follows. The letdown as days go by and the euphoria passes. The realization that the medal hanging on the wall is what I have left and now it’s time to refocus and find a new unicorn to chase down. The bliss, the exultation, the drama has unfolded and is neatly packed away and filed. The words have tumbled out, the tears have been cried, and now I am alone with the aftermath. So then I retreat to the familiar inside the recoil. The instinct to shrink away from it all.
And just like perfection is unattainable… so is going back to zero. There is no such place. The constant exchange of giving up, taking back, falling back… moving forward you’re just different for your trouble. There isn’t a turnaround or a way to go back because the place isn’t the same or even if it is, you aren’t the same. We belong exclusively to moments and if we are lucky, we experience them fully as they happen.
For me, a person who perpetually makes the same mistakes, this is the hardest lesson to learn. Life doesn’t get better or worse, it just keeps going. So I tell myself the things I need to, when sleep doesn’t come easy. I hope even when my past experience whispers warnings in my ear. I temper the inner voices that tell me lies and tear me down and take lightly the praises that are passed along by friends and family. It’s all just white noise.
So I return to the most tangible truths in my life…
On this night, with so many thoughts swirling in my head, some old and familiar, some new and unexpected I ascend the stairs and find them both tucked in together side by side in my bed. The view from the sliver of light from the hallway illuminates their faces. Strands of hair falling in their faces, eyes busy dancing beneath their lids as they dream unknown dreams I’ll never see. But I don’t need to… they are here with me in this moment and the simplicity and the power of that realization brings on a wave of happy exhaustion.
Their slow, rhythmic breathing a calming reminder that today was as full and complete as I allowed it to be. That I am as full and complete as I allow myself to be. There are no missing pieces there’s just the passage of time and what transpires on the way. The meaning, the value is for me to recognize and determine. I am reminded that I have squarely landed somewhere in between perfect and zero. A sliding scale of blank pages and scribbles in the book of my life. The eternal struggle waged between two poles of impossibility.
Crawling in bed beside them, I reflect on the day. Just the day. I can’t manage any more than that. They smell like Lavender shampoo and their little bodies have warmed up the sheets. I’m grateful that what overwhelms me in the moment is sensory perception and I won’t forget this moment, as insignificant as it may outwardly appear.
I began marathon training today and stepping outside my door this morning for my first three miles towards a December marathon I had a familiar feeling creep over me… the excitement, the will, the joy of being out running towards a goal months in the future but also just forward three miles for today. Because I have today in focus. I have today right now. So I ran.
When I launched up the driveway and back inside sweaty and lit up inside I could think only that on the scale of perfection and zero… it’s wasn’t even 7 AM and I was already a +3.
And the page turns…