Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Sprinter and The Trudger

I blow the steam away from the surface of my coffee, anticipating its creamy roasted goodness with a smile.

It's a rare afternoon with no pressing deadlines, no plans, no structure. Sleet spits against the window, blurring the grey and white landscape outside.

I feel poised on the edge of something. I used to feel this way all the time, like a runner hunched over waiting for the gun to go off.  Lately, though, the forced lazy pace of snow days and sick days has unfurled my inner sprinter, forced her to lay low.

Today, for some reason, she's up and itchy, wanting to move forward, press on towards the Next Thing.

What is that Next Thing going to be? I think, with some trepidation.

Cancer honed my ability to live in the day, the moment, which is mostly a blessing.  Thinking about tomorrow, or next week, or next month, when you're in the throes of cancer feels wrong, like testing the fates unnecessarily.

When is it time to move on?  Is the answer never?  Is the answer now?

I had a good natured disagreement with my friend Courtney a while back, about the expression "trudging the road to happy destiny".  I told her it annoyed me, this expression, because I think of trudging as a negative - something you have to do, not something you want to do.  Trudging connoted, for me, feeling the heavy weight of each burdensome step.

She laughed and said she couldn't disagree more.  "Trudging is walking with purpose," she said.  "It's one of my favorite expressions.  When you don't know what else to do? Walk forward with purpose. It works."

She's like this, Courtney.  A casual conversation with her is peppered with all sorts of profound wisdom. She doesn't seem to notice, which makes me adore her even more.

I've been thinking about trudging differently since then.  I trudged my way though early recovery - twice. I trudged my way through the sudden death of my father and the grieving aftermath. I trudged my way through cancer.  I'm trudging my way through a winter clogged with fierce weather and stuffy noses.  Looking back on the past two years, it was trudging that got me through.  Moving through each moment with only one purpose:  keep going.

When I think of trudging, I picture my head down, keeping my view on just the few feet in front of me. This isn't a bad thing, I've come to understand.  Breaking the pace of life into individual footsteps is so contrary to how I lived my life for so long - eyes squarely fixed on the horizon and missing so much that was right under my nose.

So what's next? my inner sprinter wants to know.  Is it the completion of Shining Strong, the non-profit company I'm building?  Is it growing The Bubble Hour even more?  Is it finally writing that book?  What if my cancer comes back? Now that I know how quickly life can change on a dime, do I dare dream?

I feel the anxiety and impatience willing up inside me.  The antidote?  Trudging. Walk forward with purpose, with my eyes focused only on the next few steps.  The outcome has never been up to me, anyway, it just took the cage-rattling experiences of the past two years to make me understand this.

And so I trudge. Every now and then I indulge in a glance back over my shoulder and I think: wow - one step at a time and I've gotten farther than I thought possible. 

Evey now and then I glace up ahead, and think: I wonder what's up there?

My sprinter stamps her feet impatiently, urging me to get there - wherever there is - faster.   It's harder to trudge than to sprint, I tell her.  But it's worth it.

9 comments:

  1. And I can't tell you just how much I needed to read this today. Beautifully written, Ellie.

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  2. I enjoyed reading this, thanks. And I hope you do write that book!

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  3. I love your friend's interpretation of trudging. I, too, tended to view the word negatively. I shall change that!
    Thanks to her and to you, Ellie.
    Shanon

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  4. Nice. I have been trudging for a while, and trying to appreciate the day-to day. It's good enough for now.

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  5. Beautiful, Ellie. Did you see Brene Brown on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday? SO inspiring!

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  6. So very true- and now I have something in my eye.

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