For the first time in over 20 years, I am jogging a little. Not just walking. I can run if I need to, and it’s been what feels like a lifetime. I got a piece of myself back.
Several months ago I started having dreams where I was running. It seemed strange at the time, because it was new.. and because I haven’t run anywhere in a long time. Something in my subconscious was reaching in the same direction as I have aimed my conscious life and my physical training, and it was coming out while I slept. To be honest, I don’t remember my dreams very much (I did when I was young), and when I do they are usually something unpleasant and traumatic. At least they have been for many years – whether real memories or imagined scenes. I was in a dark place for a long time, more than most people that know me realize. I’ve been in a state of Chrysalis, and waiting to emerge. At the core of my being is this heart that is damaged and wasn’t efficient.. in my physical body. My “heart” has been in no different shape. My rock bottom in 2006 was only a part of the darkness I have lived. Being betrayed by your own body, being attacked by your own immune system, is the most eloquent outward expression of what we often do to ourselves emotionally throughout life. What we allow to be done to us. What we find ourselves mired in. Taking back control has had to be an effort on all fronts, together.
I dreamed I was running.. and it felt real. When I went out for my walks, something inside began to spark. I kept feeling the impulse to do it, but I knew my body wasn’t ready yet. I held back to prevent injury, just to exercise some wisdom, and it was the right choice. At this point, I have lost about 35 lbs. It’s not more because I am building muscle, so that represents SO much more than it sounds like for me. One day I just couldn’t stand it anymore and I let myself go. I can’t run for a long time (yet) but I can do it, and I cannot put into words how it feels for me. It’s like my facial expression in that profile photo on the Mariposa Climes page in Facebook – I had just climbed a steep trail that I thought I couldn’t tackle yet. One morning after some bad news about a death, I just got up and went and did it. I did it because I knew I had to make a decision to, and when is a better time? It’s release, freedom, joy, and passion. Running is a goal I hadn’t even set and it fell like a gift into my hands unexpectedly. It has been so long since I felt that surge of emotional energy that I wasn’t sure what to do with it at first. I had it when I was a theatrical dancer. When a performance starts, you always get butterflies in your stomach. It has been quietly dormant.. but not dead, clearly.
I felt like I had lost myself. Contemplative moments have been filled with memories, and they seemed so far away. What I have recovered is not just a few physical abilities – and believe me, those are transient and subject to my health swings and how I manage it. It’s the ability to dream, and define, and create my own reality again. When I made the decision to again tackle the Half Dome goal, it was just one thing… in my mind. It has become so much more. I see so many other things that I now want to do, and I am watching a whole new world open up. If you have not yet read my recent blog on Tala’s Reflections called On a Razor’s Edge, please do it. Balance is the biggest challenge for chronic and autoimmune patients – staying stable in that middle ground. It’s difficult to stay between the “not enough” and the “too much” with every move we make. I am no exception. I know that with all that I do, my case looks very mild, and compared to my friends with serious organ damage and failure.. sure, it is. (It sounds funny to say it’s “just” my heart, but it is… just one thing at this point and not getting worse.) I am not however immune to the terrible things Lupus can do to your body. I just grabbed the reins early and started doing all of the things I need to get some balance before I went off the deep end. I am blessed, and fortunate, and in a state of amazement myself… but I am also scared a lot. It is my CHOICE not to dwell in that fear and become immobilized again. I was there long enough.
Walking out of that dark place required a mental change first. I had to make a decision not to stay. I had to choose to listen not just to my physical heartbeat, but the one that is the drive of our very being… who it is that we are. Can you hear it? Can you hear yours? Can you hear it in anyone? Whose heartbeat inspires you? Find someone. Use this internet we practically live on anymore to take your mind places that will make you want to dream. Look to the beautifully gifted individuals that are screaming out to you that you still have a life to live.. and it’s out there.. waiting. It doesn’t matter if that means sitting in a park watching birds, or if it means becoming an athlete. As long as you don’t allow yourself to stay mentally and emotionally paralyzed. I know what I am talking about. I was there. THIS is why I have blogs, and Facebook pages, and post all of the stories and thoughts that I do. I aim to reach someone sitting in a dark place like the one I was in. If you never get anything else from anything that I do or say, get THIS. Start climbing again. Finding life, finding joy, is the same as any other decision in life. You have to make that decision.
I am almost 47 years old. When I realized how close my life is getting to 50, it shook me. I remember giggling at my mother for telling me (jokingly) to “shut up” when I mentioned that my brother was turning 50 a few years ago. Half a century, we laughed. Now I’m getting closer. If I don’t do these things now…. NOW…. then when??? I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, birth is a death sentence. I have had to accept with some of my health conditions that I might possibly have a shorter track than I would otherwise, and if that is true… what am I going to wait for? There is no engraved invitation coming your way. Life IS the invitation. You have breath in your lungs today and that is nothing short of amazing. It’s not about the pain. It’s not about the inabilities. It’s about which areas you can still do things.. and expanding from there. Whatever it is, just do it. Let yourself dream.