The Way of the Grey

Yesterday I completed my first race!   10 miles!  Ran every one of them too not even stopping at the Gatorade/water stops every two miles.  I’m still high off the accomplishment.  Everytime I run I get the same high.  (Sometimes it’s slow in coming and a lot of times it’s short lived, but I take what I can get).

The high is no doubt a chemical response—adrenaline, endorphins and all that.  But for me there is also an emotional reaction that takes place.  The reaction comes in part from the humor that informs my runs—the not-so athletic me who was always (rightfully) the last chosen for the team if I wasn’t on the stage pretending to be sick so I wouldn’t have to participate in gym laughing at the me that laces up the tennies and pulls on sweat-wicking gear when a lot of people are still r.e.m.’ing before work; the things I say to motivate myself, “I am Kenyan—I run fast;”  and the songs I sing to myself like UCB’s “Sexy Lady.”

Alternatively, the emotional response comes from more somber thoughts that run through my head as I put one foot in front of the other: a friend who was a double amputee by 30 and later died from lifelong diabetic complications; my sister who developed MS and walks with the assistance of a walker, children whose educational opportunities are a 3 mile walk from home—and they make the trek daily and enthusiastically.  I’m not saying any of these folks would run 10 miles even if they had the opportunity, but in the face of such circumstances I’m humbled that I have full use of my legs and figure if I do, why not take advantage?

For most of my life, I’ve had a hard time seeing other than grey.  It’s weird because I am quite gawdy in my love of color—my clothing, the décor of my home are all a series of bright and bulky accessories I edit to counter my tendencies toward the obnoxious.   Maybe that’s just me compensating externally for what goes on internally.

I’ve never expected or hoped too hard.  Not really in a pessimistic sort of way but more c’est la vie: such is life; you know, like, whatever.   Clinically, such a perspective is a chronic depression—while there are not the manic lows or highs requisite of depression, highs are not really highs in this attitude as they are perceived in the same way as lows—whatever.

About five years ago I joined a gym because I discovered that living in grey isn’t the same as living.  Pilot mode doesn’t require any action—it just happens.

For years I had known myself as the awkward girl—a remnant from an early childhood as an unkempt tumbler whose glasses stayed broken, whose hair stayed sloppy, and whose undershirt stayed on the outside of my clothes.  By the time I got to middle school I was resolved to the expectation that I was too clumsy to do anything physical; lacking the hair and bone structure to be that girl and turned into the bookish kid who “wasn’t into that stuff anyway.”  I played the academic to my twin’s athlete, the introvert to her extrovert, every opposite that people like to box twins into.

It’s not that I wasn’t those things; it’s that in many cases I was probably more than them.  And when I decided maybe I’d give living a try—that is, something other than pilot mode—I went to the gym because I had always wanted to.  I joined two dance classes because I decided I had nothing to lose anyway.  Nothing to gain either perhaps, which is the way of the grey, but the acts were going to force me from living in grey via pilot mode.  At least, I can live my grey deliberately.   Yesterday I was living my grey deliberately, and maybe that’s why the high felt different than some of the others.  I dunno.  But check this out y’all:  I ran 10 miles yesterday.  Without stopping once.  I know: what the what?!

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One thought on “The Way of the Grey

  1. I’m so happy you wrote this piece – somehow I knew it…you knew it – but now you’ve done one step further in your ‘field of gray’ – you’ve carefully analyzed it (as you do so very much and so very often!) and you’ve admitted it…and so it is. It goes w/o saying, I’m proud of you with this new running venture/passion & just goes to say (in the words of the Obama camp, paraphrased a bit), “Yes I Can – and I DID it!”. Love & hugs & many congrats…can’t say I’d run with you (even if I could!), but I can get myself to the finish line somewhere/sometime & give you damp (well….wet, perhaps) congrats & a nice hardy hug. Love & hugs – your Mama

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