Too Much Instant Gratification: Not Enough Anticipation

image Running the Crazy Owl marathon reminded me that I grew up in a time of waiting. I waited for satisfaction–waited for film to be developed, waited for the movies to make the long process to VHS, waited for a ride, waited for a computer to boot up, waited for letters in the mail, and in most all things, waited to move on to the next level without any real sense of what it would look like, how it would actually be. Maybe that’s why I took so long to run an official full marathon, even though I’ve trained enough for it before now.

Race began at the Iriqouis Steeplechase

Race began at the Iriquois Steeplechase

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The run brought back memories of my past friendships. Beauty. The wonder and magic of the forests that I shared with my best friends of all time. Some have gone their own ways. We aren’t part of each other’s life anymore. We shared the owl dance under the tall trees by the fireplace. We imagined they were disco owls– the sun, the moon, our strobe lights and flare…the beats echoed in our cadence of running.-~dancing, and walking up the limestone trail–it chipped away and was reshaped by our steps. We laughed, “whoa!” and listened to the pieces roll away and smack rocks and bushes tumbling down into the hollow.

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Memory: My college Rumi (artist-chef-philosopher-wild sage college roommate) and I taking photos. Reloading another roll of film in the camera, exploring the forest and trying to capture the essence of tree, light, fern, moss, earth. (During the marathon, I remind myself that film is closer to the scent of some earthiness than the iPhone.)

On my parent’s back deck, I had shaved my college Rumi’s head maybe a week before our hike, so she’s bald in all the pictures. Her blonde hair floated off into the forest.

We hiked, talked, click click the pictures at Percy Warner. Afterward, we parked up where you can look down West End and the whole of Nashville from the hill with all the other smokers, the college students, the grunge and angst seething from us, but some deep red smoldering was there, burning. We waited. The Tao te Ching contains a phrase, “The greatest talent matures slowly.” Waiting a little, but not like apathetic waiting. No, college Rumi and I owned creative waiting–we would create something–the dialogue of plants, the orchestra of hand gestures, the blooming of noodles and food. We waited for photographs to process–film to develop. Images printed of Percy Warner Park–sunflares capturing the ghosts of those hills. We were there. I ran past us.

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The Crazy Owl stirred me on and around and up again. Remember: I was with D in the car listening to Jimi–it was all crosstown traffic and watchtowers as we wound through the forests and bumblebee hollow at 2 am, talking men, and God, and Goddess dreaming. Talking shit. Talking. Loving at 16-going-on, then lost and winding on the roads of 20-something. Stopping at a swing set, singing, “Say, say, what about when we grow up and have babies?” Now, late 30s, all the stages of my life have passed at the park.

The Belle Meade stairs in grade school. The field trip. The passing on the way to Cheekwood exhibits. And I descend them first this time, and run around the flagpole, feeling like I’m 8 & racing my third grade classmates. I climb the stairs again, slowly. It’s a long walk to the top, and I know it well, but a volunteer points to the direction. He laughs, “Wish I could say it was the last big hill.”

Wish you could see the stairs going up in the shadows

Wish you could see the stairs going up in the shadows

Early 30’s: running and hiking with my Mom, and just being where I am, where I have been on the Warner Trail. Discussing everything with her there–childbirth, generations, what’s funny, what’s lost, what hurts, what heals, and my family’s history, my family’s now, and where we’re going both literally on the trail and in the future. The Farrell Road trail knows all my secrets and desires.

Another water station. A volunteer reminds me, “It’s just a walk in the park.” I laugh.

I realize in this run–I am my future self. I understand my motion and then I am dizzy and slow. Slow. Be. Walk. Slowly. Soak. It. In. Even the emotion. Let it. Allow. Ahhhhh.

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I almost stopped. I did stop. Sat down on a bench momentarily and another runner checked on me. Walked. Walk in the park. Take it easy, baby. The hills are enchanted when you let them in. All the runners who passed me were encouraging. The support rallied me to get out of my head. I worked too hard for too long to let it get to me. Grateful for true dirtbags because they won’t let you fail. They motivate and tell you that you are great and awesome when you look and smell like shit.

Within all of that, I actually broke my shell and talked to some other runners. I admitted that I felt intimated, and they understood! So happy to talk with fun people during the race–women and men with more experience than I, and I learned so much just by being near them. Thanks to Donna, her friend who fell and couldn’t finish the race (I forgot his name), and many other unnamed runners.

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I kept going and go, go, go. I can see my husband in my mind–and just at that instant, I get a text from him. “Breathe” and another text, “you’ve already done great”, and more texts and more encouraging messages. I am done. Yes, that’s Right. Done is coming up, so I get going. And I know he’s there with another memory for me and him and my girls at this finish line. I could hear my daughters’ laughter half a mile before the finish. My children and their laughter echoing over the hills, the trails, the roads–all my selves there to embrace. It was the real epic–what you want to get from your(soul)self, the place, and the people in one day.

If you can visualize it, then you can achieve it. Anticipation is what you need.

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