Fifty-two weeks ago today, I ran 17 miles. It was a typical October Saturday morning for Florida–a little cooler than September, but still, as Batdad’s son likes to say, “hot as balls.”
I didn’t set out to go that far. It just sort of happened.
Things were lined up nicely for me. Work had died down for the moment and I had the Florida Writers Conference coming up, then Tough Mudder. Then a nice skate into the holidays followed by a lovely cruise over New Years with my family.
The end of 2014 was teeing up 2015 to be the best year ever.
And, to be sure, amazing things have happened this year. My daughter graduated and went off to start changing the world, one step at a time. My son got a job he enjoys well enough and is almost done with his Eagle Scout work. He’s a senior now and really relishing the life he’s built. My wife is progressing at work to a job I think will make her a little more stressed, but probably happier.
And me? I’ve discovered the collected works of Nathan Fillion. It’s a pretty awesome accomplishment. Castle has been a favorite of a lot of writers for years and it’s my current television obsession. And I’m also a fan of good sci-fi: Star Trek, Battlestar, that Joss Whedon show.
There were a couple other things, too. I’ve kind of bludgeoned them to death on these hallowed pixels over the months.
Suffice to say, that 52 weeks later, I’ve paid a heavy price in exchange for existing. I’ve lost two suitcases, a bluetooth earpiece, two cell phones, a water bottle I kind of liked, a lot of sleep, my ability to do hard core workouts, a lot of my cynicism about a certain baseball team, a good deal of my cynicism about trusting people and about God, and my ability to drink more than two beers at a sitting without waking up with an annoying headache behind my ears.
I’d say, in retrospect, it’s a fair price.
Monetarily, I haven’t gained or lost much, but in every other way, almost, my life is richer than it was 52 weeks ago.
In Chicago, during the winter, there’s typically a long processions of days in which the sky is a low-hanging gray monolith that threatens to drop from the sky and smother you. Then you go to bed hoping for sun, knowing there won’t be any, and enduring the gray monolith again. It’s like living in dusk every day for four months.
When you’re done, you say “Oh, that’s just sixteen weeks. Over the course of a year–of a life–that’s not that bad.” But during that stretch, the days seem as endless as the low cloud-cover that makes you feel claustrophobic in the middle of an open field.
That was this year.
But the winter passed and the spring came, like it always does. And like it always does, the end of the storm left people both diminished and tougher. There are scars that didn’t used to be there, more tender spots to care for. More realization of limitations and mortality–and more faith in determination, friendship, love, and–for me, anyway–in God.
Well done, my trusted servant. Enter into your master’s joy.
I’m not turning this into a come-to-Jesus post, but there are certain people who didn’t run, didn’t throw darts, and who were part of all of this. I can’t go through this all with relationships that haven’t deepened. God is one of those relationships for me.
The super sucky part of hard times is that they’re hard–and while you’re going through them, they involve a ton of time.
But the great part is what you learn. For me, that’s summed up in a quote from Winnie the Pooh I once used for my daughter. It’s a quote a friend reminded me of recently.
There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.
If I were building a secular gospel, that would be part of it.
That and the statement that no matter where you go, you aren’t alone. You might have to think hard on who’s with you, but someone always is.