Marathons and Possibilities
Within each of us there lies a multiverse of possibilities.
It happens at this time every year. (And around Columbus Day weekend. And the first Sunday in November. And the list goes on....)
A little part of me can't help playing the What If Game.
What if I hadn't run Boston on a torn meniscus in 2004?
What if I had been more consistent in wearing my brace after ACL reconstruction every time I played soccer or skied?
What if I hadn't played in a pick-up soccer game on that unseasonably warm December 22nd in 2007?
What if I had only played in women's leagues?
What if I had stopped playing soccer and just focused on running?
Could I still be running marathons now?
Would I have been able to break the 3 hour mark?
Would I have been able to let go of the endless need to get faster?
Would I have changed the way I trained and raced to make room in my life for my husband and my children?
Would I still have a medial meniscus?
Would I have ever found my way to yoga?
Would I have ever met the version of me that fills my life now?
These questions are tinged with a small layer of regret. I loved running. I loved running hard and fast and long. I loved the feeling of crossing a finish line, of winning races, of the pure endorphin rush at the end of 8 or 12 or 20 hard miles.
But they are also framed by a different understanding. By a different way of seeing. Another way of being in this world. A way that is softer, more compassionate, more present. That I think, from where I stand now, makes me a better partner and mother and daughter. That makes me a better mover: where I once believed that a day didn't really "count" if I hadn't run or played soccer, I have now learned to move in so many more ways, bringing strength and balance to what had once been blind spots in my body. Bringing more movement in general to the whole that is my life. Letting go of certain beliefs about what is exercise or what we need from exercise, moving towards new understandings of what the human body needs.
"What do your demons make you do?" she said softly, holding his head and making curls absently with his ragged blond hair. He sighed.
"About sixteen, eighteen miles a day."
-Once a Runner, John L Parker
And with these new understandings--and so much more I have yet to learn--I find that along with the little longing that comes up in my heart with these memories and questions, there is also the awareness that I'm a better teacher of movement thanks to an evolution that began at that fork in my path: an irreparably torn meniscus and the end of my marathon running.
There are so many possible versions of me. So many variables. Some possibilities that are now closed in the past. So many more that I can't even imagine in the future. Every day presenting thousands of choices that can change the path, if only a little bit.
But at each junction, there is only one choice, one path forwards. From all of those possible paths, there is only one body I can inhabit today. And I choose to love this version of me even more than that nostalgic version of myself when my body wasn't limited by a lack of cushioning tissue in one knee. To inhabit it with kindness. And to enjoy playing with all of the possibilities I'm lucky enough that it still affords me. Recognizing that while that other version of myself had its meniscus intact, there were other pieces that were less so. And those pieces that were incomplete then are, amazingly, so much more whole now.
Even if, from the sidelines, a piece of my heart is still with you, runners! Go Boston! You all are my heroes.