Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Head down, moving forward

"We seem to have reached the age where life stops giving us things and starts taking them away."

~ Dean Charles Stanforth
Sitting in a brightly lit room in the middle of the day, it's easy to sagely say, "We only have the illusion of control in our lives."

But at 3:30 a.m., when the guard rails are down and the filters are gone, I still don't believe it. It's then that my brain refuses all logic and demands explanation and reversal of the inexplicable and irrevocable. My thoughts pinball from one non sequitur to the next. Sleep, if it returns, is filled with what seems like someone else's dreams.

I know, as a matter of cold, hard fact, that anything can happen to anybody at any time. I've learned from recent experience that friends can be diagnosed with breast cancer or bladder cancer or ALS. That a man who once seemed indestructible can age and wither and die. That a strong young man running 80 miles a week can die quickly and incomprehensibly in the middle of the night.

I know we are powerless to bend the arc these much-loved people are on, or to bring them back from their next journey...but at my core I can't accept the reality of it.

In order to keep moving forward and get things done, I stick to a routine that doesn't require a lot of decision-making. Occasionally I stumble over a task that I can't bring myself to do, so I avoid it.

Author M. Molly Backes describes the Impossible Task thusly:
"A cool thing about the Impossible Task is that it changes on you. One time it might involve calling someone, but maybe you can work around it by emailing. Another time it’s an email issue. Then when you think you have it pinned down, you suddenly can’t do the dishes."

Another cool thing about the Impossible Task is that it's a symptom of depression.
Recovering from a running injury, I told a friend I was going to "stick to more predictable terrain for a while."

Turns out there's no such thing as predictable terrain.

Not in running, not in life.