After a hard week of running that was capped by a tempo run at 7:30 am the other day, I listened to a voice mail from my best friend and returned her call as I drove away from the trailhead. While I ate breakfast, made coffee, stripped off my sweat-soaked running gear and stretched sore muscles, we discussed the finer points of relinquishing control over relationships and other people’s emotions, and trusting that time will slowly reveal life lessons and perspective that is otherwise hidden from us at the moment. We talked about allowing space for each person to feel their emotions without trying to control the other person’s response to us, and trusting that relational dynamics will play out organically instead of forcing our intellect and rational minds to dictate the terms of our most intimate interactions.
You know, a typical post-workout conversation between besties. No biggie.
But really, the conversation struck home. Over the years I have struggled with allowing my emotions to be what they are and to release judgment on what “should” happen, instead of admitting that I simply feel the way I feel. I’ve attempted to control outcomes of interactions based on the faulty assumption that I have all the data necessary to make such decisions. I’ve super-imposed stories that I’ve told myself about how other people feel about me or my choices, thereby refusing to engage with them because I was protecting myself from perceived judgment.
And yet, time and time again, I have been proven wrong. Every time I make an assumption about how someone in my inner circle will react, I am proven wrong. The life lesson that continually slaps me around is that I don’t give other people enough credit, and I try to side step their emotions as a way of staying within my story about how the world really is. When really, my stories are simply complex forms of fiction. Stories are a form of brain-candy that keep me entertained when I don’t feel like engaging as an authentic person who may or may not have the most accurate knowledge.
When it comes to being an authentic person, there is a lot of trust involved. Trust in one’s self, trust in others; trust in the magic of Time. I have found that time is a great healer. Time reveals life lessons when the student is good and ready, and not a moment before.
Engaging in trust is like walking off a cliff. I stop making plans based on perceived contingencies and trust that I am capable of handling challenges because I am a self-aware, intelligent, rational, creative and passionate person. I’ve done a lot of living and seen a lot of things. I will never be able to spreadsheet all the nuances life has to offer, so why would I ever want to stop my forward motion by sitting down to plan out the unknown?
Exactly a year ago I decided to get outside my comfort zone and do something terrifying and massive, something that would challenge me and my relationship with my body, family and self. I signed up for a marathon. I spent the next 16 weeks re-learning how to listen to my body. I embraced TIRED, and learned how to rest after pushing the limits. I learned how to communicate my needs to my family, and they in turn learned to respect my downtime, and help me. I learned how to ask for support, push my limits, hydrate, feed my body during and after intense training sessions and get up to do it again.
I learned Trust. I trusted that Coach Gwen had created a training plan that would and could get me through a marathon. I trusted that my body was able to perform and would hold up through 26.2 miles. I trusted that the solitary hours spent running would reveal aspects of myself that were shadowy at best and shocking at worst. And I trusted that the process was worthwhile, though I didn’t know what was waiting for me at the finish line. I had hope.
Fast forward twelve months. It’s early August again and I’m ready to push the boundaries. I’ve registered for the Slickrock 50k trail race in Moab on October 8. I trust that I am capable of running 30 miles, and time will reveal nuances of my soul that are heretofore unknown. I’ll be resourcing myself out to people who support me in this goal, and will help me along the way. I’m open to whatever happens… I just want to try. I can’t learn Trust if I don’t get outside my comfort zone and do things differently than I’ve ever done before. By choosing activities that are outside my comfort zone, I am also choosing to relate to people, myself and situations differently than I’ve done before. I am open to learning a new way of seeing, feeling, understanding, and being. I am trusting that there are life lessons to be learned along the way, and I choose to put myself into situations that will help me to get to the next level.