There’s a mist that seems to hang in the early morning air, heavy and humid from the water lapping at the shore, the cool morning temps that kicked the furnace on at 6:45 this morning.
I’m glad to be awake actually. Dreamless and sleeping deeply, the stiff mattress transferred all it’s solidity to my shoulders and upper back and I wince slightly as I turn over, grateful to have slept for multiple hours in a row in a state so blissfully unaware. I’d left the bedroom window open, and through it, as the furnace roars it’s morning greeting from the other room, I can hear the birds conversing in the trees. The entire lake emptied out yesterday; windows closed to the humid and cool air, shades drawn and fishing poles tucked away and last night as the profound silence settled over the empty lake, I gazed out at the darkness, no campfires dotting the shores, the black expanse of water just down the slope of the yard and I thought of how alone I feel here like this, yet how safe and centered it makes me.
I sip coffee and slip on my running shoes. For more years than I can recall, my one recurring dream has been of me running; a strong and powerful dream that leaves me breathless in it’s attempt to tell me what I can do. It’s always the same, every single time; I am running, breath strong, powerful muscles and stride, determined, and capable. Every time it graces my sleep, I awaken charged and ready and think I can conquer a marathon. I haven’t dreamt this particular dream in a while, but it’s memory clings in the very fibers of my life, a reminder, or gentle prodding.
Somewhere in me, I know there is a runner that is screaming to get out. So I run.
It’s nothing like my dreams, but I don’t expect it to be. You aren’t born capable of anything, except living in the day to day. Our abilities and strengths lie deep within us, and if our dreams can show us, without doubt or hesitation what we are capable of, then we owe it to ourselves to listen. I walk, loosening my legs and that stiff upper back, and when I finally turn off the two-lane and on to the dirt road, I break in to a soft run, feeling muscles in my legs and hips loosen even more. For a few moments, it’s wonderful and just like my dreams, then my lungs start protesting, fighting with my body over control of my brain and I’m forced to slow to a walk again.
But I keep going. I walk. Then I run. Then I walk again. It gets easier, but it really doesn’t. Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight; a good relationship doesn’t just occur without a little work, homes aren’t built without careful planning, well placed boards and a solid foundation and a runner doesn’t just awaken from a dream and take on a marathon.
This is the moment where we say to ourselves “I know I am capable of so much more.” So I keep going. I run/walk around the South side of the lake to the highway, and here I have to decide- do I turn around, knowing that steep hill is behind me and I will have to run UP that if I return this way? Or do I keep going, through the woods on the other side, past the Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Woodland Violet, under the towering birch and cottonwood? I keep going, through the trees, stopping on the dirt road to raise my eyes to the green canopy above and give thanks for the strength to continue, to chase after this crazy dream of running at 49. I’m energized, and I’m warm. I’ve stripped off my jacket, I’m in my running tank and the air is cold on my sweaty skin but the dream tells me to keep moving.
To keep running.
Whether it’s about running, or just a metaphor for my life, I’m compelled to listen to the dream, to figure it out, not give up. I’m compelled to keep running, whether it’s to an eventual 5K, to the end of the month, another year of marriage, planning of hopes and dreams or just to the end of this day, on an empty lake under heavy gray sky. Maybe the dream isn’t about the act of running, but the race before us, the daily shuffle-step that often falls with a dulling thud in it’s monotony, the dream urging me to keep my head up, keep breathing, shoulders down, back straight, eyes forward. To just keep going.