Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Meet Me at the Pole

It’s been one of those melancholy, slightly-off days.  Odd little things happened, which by themselves weren’t a big deal, but together they grew to kinda be a cloud in my sunny sky.  Days like today make me think about running.

I’m not a runner.  I never have been.  Three out of four years of high school found me going out for track (mostly for social reasons. Okay, purely for social reasons) and although I “specialized” in field (honestly, “specialized” is so wrong, it should’ve been I “sub-par’d”), I still had to run in practice.  And I was not a runner. 

My track coach was a monster.  A real live monster.  And a runner.  He was a running monster.  He’d run and run and run until we found him puking his guts out in the bushes alongside whatever country road he had dragged us out to to runHe was not empathetic to my non-runner plight.

So I did what any good non-running girl would do in my position.  I cried.  I cried and cried and cried.  (Bonus fact:  he was also my Algebra teacher and I cried for every Algebra test he gave me.  What can I say; I preferred not to do numbers.  Or to run.)  But I still ran.  I ran and cried.  I got pretty good at it.  But still not good enough to place at any meet, of course.  Even if they had an event that incorporated running and crying, I’d still not have placed.  I’m just not a runner.  I do, however, seem to be an excellent crier.  

My track coach, aside from being a running monster, was a brilliant youth pastor (yes, he was all-purpose.  We went to a small school, okay?) and he used to incorporate life lessons into everything we did.  Ignoring my tears and choking sobs, he’d run alongside me and say, “See that telephone pole?  Just up there?  All you have to do is make it to that pole.”  Then the pole would come, and just before we reached it he’d say, “Now see that green mailbox?  Right there?  Now just make it to that green mailbox.”  He’d continue this until we reached our goal, which was usually like a block.  (He was no dummy; he knew what he was working with.

But he did succeed in part; he imparted to me an important life lesson.  A running life lesson which I’ve incorporated into many a season of life: if I can’t see the end, or I can’t see ever even making it to the end, or I can’t see what the end even is, I can at least make it to the next telephone poleThen the next green mailbox.

I used that running lesson to make it through the rest of high school.  I used that running lesson to make it after I quit college, broke up with a long-time boyfriend, and entered the workforce world.  I used that running lesson when Jason was activated with his Navy Reserve Unit and sent to Kuwait for the first year of our daughter’s life.  I picked a “telephone pole” – a holiday, an event, a visit, an appointment and told myself just to make it to that one.  Then, just before that one arrived, I’d find another landmark to reach. 

I’m incorporating that running life lesson now.  My next “telephone pole”: I’m big on holidays.  You can bet I know just what I’m going to make for Jason for Valentine’s Day.  Once I’m within shouting distance of the Happy Hearts Day, you can bet I’ll have picked another landmark to head toward.  I don’t know when this particular leg of the race I’m in will end, or how.  I just know that I’ll be making sure to have that next telephone pole in sight. 

And after that, the next green mailbox.  Some seasons of life are just a marathon.  I may not be a runner, but I know how to runEven if I have to cry a little along the way.


The Boob Nazi said...

Well, that definitely works! What a good idea! I have one HUGE telephone pole coming up (grad school graduation), and after that, I can't think of my next pole....

Rebekah said...

So good!

Jen Rouse said...

Really great post. I also went out for certain high school activities purely for social reasons, and then kind of hated lots of aspects of them while I was doing them...but kept doing them every year anyway. And I also thought I was not a runner. But now I find that it's the only exercise that I am capable of because it requires no agility or coordination or skill at all. All you have to do is just...keep...going.

Sarah and the Gentlemen said...

That's a great reminder, Jessica.

Pressing on and pressing in.... said...

I love you, Jessica. You run the race well.

The Hotrum Family said...

Wow! This really spoke to me as I am starting to run....thank you for giving me something else to help me along the I run and cry as well!