Thursday, January 24, 2013

for the long haul

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

~ Martin Luther King Jr.


wandering the halls of the mind ~ in and out of warmly lit rooms built and adorned over the course of many years ~ it's an odd thing to be unplugging lamps and closing blinds.

seems like you should be turning on new lamps and hanging up artwork and installing hardwood floors. that's what you do on a project built to last.

instead, you're powering down.

and really, you should expect it to take a long time, because every room is reached by myriad halls, and every connection leads to another. the profusion of cords in between are woven into a gordian knot you never dreamed would require untangling.

it's arduous work, and you know before you start that the task will never be complete. then there's the small-but-important detail that each pull of each plug delivers a sensation of pain.


"There was this woman, I could tell by the way she set her gaze that she was in for the long haul. For the first three hours, she kept a solid, even keel. Somewhere after the three-hour mark, she began taking walk breaks. And then I began to notice a hitch in her giddy-up. Then I saw her holding her left hip, and stopping to stretch it. By the end of the race, her gait was deformed and she was in obvious pain. Yet she continued on until the race director stood at the edge of the track and told us the race was over."

~ meghan hicks, "health forever, or at least 2013"

why do we do this? why do we stubbornly repeat actions and behaviors we know are self-destructive? it's not because we don't know any better. i mean, we're not amoebae. even animals much "lower" than us on the evolutionary ladder learn not to run up to the lion and slap it upside the head.

what is wrong with us?

let's continue our little tour. psychologically, compartmentalization is the process by which we isolate and separate some aspects of our personality from the others. we have a need, all of us, to be different people to different constituencies. every day. this is useful, for example, when one part of your life requires you to dress up in funny outfits and wear a bright red nose...and another part of you wants to scream and run away because it doesn't like clowns very much.

but, to survive socially and economically, that's what we do, most of us.

those rooms are cold and austere, decorated in a sterile gray. and unless we tend toward the sociopathic, we try to spend as little time there as possible. still, the rooms exist and they get used, and if we're very unfortunate, sometimes we forget where the doors are.


“Are you running from something in your life? Do you value the sport part of you more than your other qualities, skills, and hobbies? Are you running from food issues? Relationship issues? Is there a nasty secret in your past that you want to separate yourself from some more? Are you compulsive? Do you not know when to say when? Do you just love your sport so much than you don’t know what else to do with yourself?”  

~ meghan hicks
as some clever someone once said, “if the answer to one or more of these questions is ‘yes,’ you may have a problem.”

related question: how did i get in this room, and where's the door?
"When you don’t know what to do, return to the basics." 

do you know who kristin armstrong is? she used to be married to lance armstrong. she was with him for three kids and four tour de france titles, and undoubtedly became far too familiar with some of lance's most consternating compartments.

fast forward: the armstrongs divorced, lance went on to additional fame and infamy, kristin now writes a column about life and running. about lance's recent, frenzied fall from what was never 'grace,' she wrote...

"Normal is what you make it. I am not in sprint mode, not focused on the finish line. I’m more in ultra mode. Not thinking about the miles ahead, only on the mile of the moment. I am pacing myself, nourishing myself, and checking in periodically to ensure I am steady as I go. I don’t want to feel better, stronger, more at peace “when…” I want to feel it now, for all the miles in between. The funny thing is that it is actually a choice."

when you don't know what to do, she said, return to the basics. 

this is a good tip.
"most people have been brainwashed into believing that their job is to copyedit the world, not to design it. that used to be your job. it's not, not anymore. you go first."

"dude, what's wrong with you, and wtf are you talking about?" ~ imaginary reader

nothing. just a several-day-long existential crisis.

a little light reading...

"Humans do not enter a world which is inherently structured. We must give the world a structure which we ourselves create. Isolation recognizes that no matter how close we become to another person, a gap always remains, and we are nonetheless alone.

"Existential issues are not ones that can be dealt with only once, but rather ones that will need frequent revisiting and reconsideration."


sometimes you have to tear things down before you can build them up again. and again.

working on the structure. for the long haul.