Wednesday, September 13, 2006

On the Lawns of Life

Life is not an all or nothing kind of thing. It's possible, as I propose in the last post, that there can be a general macro happiness. Think of it like a beautiful lush green lawn. However, unless chemicals are involved (heh) this lawn will be peppered with a few depressed or sad weeds. Maintaining that general state of happiness requires management of these weeds to keep them from taking over and spoiling the lawn. There is rarely a time in anyone's life that is free from weeds. We (meaning I) have to realize that weedless is just not an attainable goal. Having a weed need not spoil the grass as it were. I'm cool with weeds--getting there anyway.

I must say I know that I have a lush green lawn. Yeah, there are definitely some weeds. Some easily picked, others stubbornly hanging in there despite many attempts to get rid of them. I'm also learning that some things that look like weeds might actually be nice native plants or workable in the landscape and not necessarily something to try to eliminate.

Yeah, I like metaphors. They're cheesy and all but they help me get my head around a concept very well. I'll quit the metaphoring for now, because I want to talk about real stuff now, k?

I ran my last pre-marathon tune-up race on Sunday. I ran a half-marathon in 1:35:11 (7:16 pace). It's funny. I used to have all kinds of pre-race anxiety but now I hardly even think about it. I figure out a rough strategy plan and just get out there and do it. The weather can stink, I could feel like poo, whatever. I just go and don't think to hard about it. I've realized that this is because I trust myself. I just have faith that I'll come through in the clutch. I've worked hard and know I can do it. And when it gets tough I have a secret mantra. When I start to get tired or doubt creeps in I say to myself, "I'm tough" and then I smile and say "and I'm HAPPY!" and I pick it up a little bit. I have been thinking about why these particular ideas work when others don't. When I ran xc in high school I used to beat myself up to try to get myself to perform better. This never worked. I would always end up psyching myself out--rebelling against my own self-bullying. But now I am positive and confident about my abilities I am experiencing much better results and doing much more than I ever thought possible. Part of it too, is putting things in perspective. And sorry to go back to the metaphor, but not running my goal time in a race is hardly a weed on my life lawn, you know. I used to use a bad performance as some sort of barometer of my self-worth (I was 17, don't forget). I wasn't fast and therefore I was inferior to other people in some way who were faster. I'm not all that fast now, but I don't care. I love doing it and I do it for fun and personal satisfaction and not as some demonstration of my worth as a human being. Anyway, this race and the two previous are concrete proof that I have found a great deal of self-acceptance and that I am actually HAPPY!

It's funny now that I used a lawn as my metaphor for happiness. Old guys with too much time on their hands or who pay too much money to chemlawn use their weed-free green-in-the-middle-of-August lawn as some sort of testiment to their worth--what it says other than anal-retentive, I don't know. I just picture my lawn as shiney and green and soft and flecked with buttercups. I just can feel it all soft on my skin as I roll around on it in the sunshine. Every once in a while I roll onto one of those spiney lawn weeds and have to nurse the prickles. But that's ok. I don't mind the reminder and the break from rolling really. And I don't care if the old guy thinks there's something wrong with my buttercups.

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