Why Change?

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

socrates

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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