Archive for January, 2014

Why Change?

Posted on January 17, 2014. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


Last time I checked, it’s still January.  We’re just over halfway through with it and already change is hard.  I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions.  Not really. I simply realized (once again) the need to be deliberate, to be present, since the present moment is all we are truly given.

A fortune from a cookie is pinned above my desk to remind me:  “A focused mind is one of the most powerful forces in the universe.” I vow to start each day, before I ever get out of bed, focused with a prayer first of thanksgiving for this day, and then for guidance:  Wisdom in my decisions, prudence in my actions, compassion in my communication.  Then and only then will I allow my mind to be crowded with all there is to be done today.

But, as it turns out, even as small a change as this is hard to make.  Just yesterday morning, for instance, my alarm went off at 5.  I knew all the things I had to do that day, as I do every day, because I keep a calendar and a to-do list, both of which I review frequently.  I planned to get up and run, then write, then work from home for a couple of hours before some afternoon meetings.  If I didn’t get up in time, something would have to give. And I knew that something would be either my running or my writing, neither of which I am willing to sacrifice.

I have changed the way I think about both writing and running. I don’t have to do them every day, only some days, and on the days I choose to do them, I do them deliberately.  So much pressure removed, so much focus added. Both activities improve tremendously, and so does my attitude about them.

But yesterday morning at the sound of the alarm, rather than starting my day with a prayer, I started with the rapid blur of mental gymnastics as I thought about how to change my day’s already-established plan:

I don’t really have to put in eight miles today I can do it tomorrow because tomorrow I have a running meeting on the Salado Greenway Trail at 11 and we’ll probably run four miles so I can always go early and put in four before or stay later but I can still get up at 5 to get my writing in because if I do run then instead of now that cuts into tomorrow’s writing time and…

It was cold and dark, you see, and I had eaten too many Cheetos the night before. I just wanted to lie in bed a little longer, until my stomach didn’t feel queasy. Or until spring.

And then it hit me. This whole idea of change. Not only that I was bucking against my own self-imposed new system, but that there was another change I needed to make too.  I couldn’t go to the trail to run alone.  Because that would be stupid. Unsafe. And the one change I felt compelled to make after New Year’s Eve was to not run alone in secluded places. Not since Lauren Bump’s murder.

So I rolled out of bed and got ready to run in a place that may or may not be safer than a trail:  my neighborhood.  I’ve always thought of my neighborhood as safe, just as I’ve always thought of the trailway as safe.  Now, in my mind, they are equal.  And now, for the first time in my life, I carry pepper spray. Another change to get used to.

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Processing a Runner’s Murder

Posted on January 10, 2014. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


On New Year’s Eve day, 24-year-old Lauren Bump pulled into O.P. Schnabel Park on the west side of San Antonio sometime shortly before 3:00 pm.  I imagine she stood outside of her car and stretched, leaned her body left and right, arms overhead, lengthening her IT bands.  She may have grabbed an ankle, hiked it up behind her, pulled gently, first one side, then the other.

I imagine she found her favorite music on her iPod, stuck her buds in her ears, and took off at a slow and easy pace down the trail, out onto the Salado Greenway. She probably inhaled deeply, looked up into the sky, taking in the sun and birds and tranquility of the trails. It was perfect running weather, mid-50s at 3:00, and she smiled as she settled into her run.

I can imagine all of this because it’s what I would have done had it been me out there running.  It’s what I do each morning I go out for a run, gratefully anticipating the peace and time and space. It’s what I need. What keeps me right with myself, with the world.

Only, now, my peace is gone. Not only can I imagine Lauren setting out for her run, I can also imagine—in horrifying detail—how she must have felt, blindsided by a maniac with a knife slicing away her tranquility, her promise. Her life.

Like the rest of San Antonio and the running community here, I am stunned by Lauren’s brutal murder. In broad daylight. In a public and well-used area. I cannot imagine how her family must be reeling at their loss. I cannot imagine how someone could do such a thing.

And I cannot get past my anger.  Of all the many things associated with Lauren’s murder—I cannot call it her “death,” as that word seems too passive, implying no agent of action to have caused it—to be angry about, I’m not sure which weighs most heavily.

Perhaps it’s that I feel the need to change my way of life, one that I was happy with on December 30.  Maybe it’s that what’s driving the impetus for change is not the desire for self or community improvement, but fear. Nothing angers me more than fear. Usually, its presence makes me want to face its source head-on.  But this time, I feel like I can’t, because it’s not a man I’d be facing. Or a tall building or a nest of spiders or den of snakes.  Rather, the source of my anger is the knowledge that what happened to Lauren could have happened to anyone of us, any time, any place.

I choose to see the best in people because I like to believe that we all have something good and decent within us, that we are all capable of greatness.  I choose to see the promise in humanity.

But all the while, I know there are people out there like the man who murdered Lauren, and I see the flaw in my vision. What do we do with people like him?  I don’t have an answer.  Do you?

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Posted on January 3, 2014. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.

~ Henry David Thoreau

Going into this New Year, I didn’t have much time to reflect. Usually, I like to spend a few days thinking.  Looking backward and forward. Writing things down—a plan, a list, the Hamlet T-square of things to be or not to be.  But this time, there simply was no time.  Too much work, then too many parties, an abundance of family, and before I knew it, it was New Year’s Eve.

The whole time I wasn’t preparing, I recognized it, and it bothered me.  I wanted to look, wanted to reflect. The past year stood before me like a full length mirror, but each time I tried to gaze into it, I was distracted by what was in front of me and couldn’t see in.

On December 30, I stopped worrying. I was talking with a friend about relationships, including our relationship with our self.  We both agreed that many people can hardly see themselves as they truly are, may never see themselves as others’ do.  My friend meant literally. I meant in every other way.

If we look into a mirror and cannot accurately see our own reflection, then how can we expect to look backward at a year and accurately reflect on ourselves? Our sight is often distorted. We see what we want to see, what we are able to see, what we are prepared to see.

I am thus going into the new year looking forward rather than back, even if 2013 was a good year. More important, I am focusing on—with appreciation, gratitude, joy—where I am today, since today is what I have. And the day has only begun.

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