When I woke up I was thinking about seasons, and how the trees in autumn sometimes just show up so vibrantly and badass that everyone is like WHOA! The news even has it as a story- “best fall leaves in 5 years!” “This season is shaping up to be one of the best we’ve seen!” I started thinking about how life is days, and years- but also seasons.
Things happen for a while, a while that isn’t a neat amount of time like a week or a month, but just a while. The while can be short, or long. We don’t notice that the while, or the season, has passed until we’re into the next- suddenly we realize things are different- maybe better maybe worse.
Then I was thinking about my running. Last year at this time I was running in my ideal way. I ran when I wanted to, as far as I wanted to. I didn’t keep track of time, only my miles. I ran for the pleasure of running, the sanity I gain from the woods and moving. I was going regularly, it wasn’t work. It was a joyful habit. It drove the way I ate, slept, felt in my body. I was running 15 miles on my long runs in 20 degree weather. I could get dressed easily because my clothes fit. All of them.
I felt like I was kicking ass. Like an autumn you’d read about.
And yet.. now I am not running regularly. I miss it so much, like my best friend moved away and keeps forgetting to write or answer when I call. Sometimes I go run, but I make it 2 miles before I have to walk. The race series I proudly registered for back in June (20 miles in February! 50K in April!) feels like so long ago. I look outside and long for the woods and the cold and think I’ll go tomorrow. Most of my clothes don’t fit well. I end up wearing my running clothes because strangely they don’t make me feel like a mushy lump. I eat mostly good but also crap and know it’s not what I want but then I’m tired of caring. So I get the big pack of Twizzlers to eat during a movie and think, It’s ok, I’ll do better tomorrow.
Sometimes I just can’t stand tomorrow. I want to kick tomorrow and it’s empty promises right out the door, lock it, and hold up my middle finger. Tomorrow is so unreliable! What a jerk.
So much of sobriety, of recovery, of life is wrapped up in today. Just for today! Live for today! Be here now! What we do today wraps into the promise of tomorrow. It makes sense that we feel frustrated- it seems like even though we “should” be happy today, what we really want is actually happening tomorrow.
I am strangely comforted though, by the idea that my life is always changing- that just because I weigh more and my running sucks today, next year I might be back at it, gearing up to go for a 20 mile trail run! It makes me think about how attached we are to our images, what we look like on the outside, and how we’re like seasons. That are unpredictable. Winter doesn’t get ashamed because it’s so stark, or summer doesn’t hang it’s head because it’s plump with leaves and heat.
We’re the same way: we just flow through our seasons, sometimes drawn and sparse, sometimes full of love and bounty. What if we could take our daily “be here now” idea and have it as a piece of us, not as the whole story? When I see myself as more of a presence than a punishment? I know that every time I look back on my life I feel a sense of pride, no matter what the number is on the scale, or how many things I’m “accomplishing”. Tending what is, planning for the harvest.
I took all my clothes that are too small and moved them to the big closet in my youngest son’s room. I’m mad, mad that I keep missing the point, that I keep wanting the same damn thing over and over, mad that I let the seasons get away from me again.
But that’s the thing, after winter surely comes spring. And another and another. I’m being the kind of hard on myself that says “Look here, this life is about half over. Do you really want to be spending your seasons on the same old shit? Like, let’s rotate the crops here!”
For some reason that comforts me, it makes me feel the reliability of the seasons, that I have been where I want to be before, and so I can be there again. Just like winter leads to spring, sometimes arriving late, sometimes early, but always arriving, full of the promise of the next season once again.