Graphing The Year

Today I’m sorting through my desk at home, and I come to the task that marks the New Year for me; a faithful ritual that I observe annually, without fail. Although looking at that picture – what the hell happened to 2003?

Never mind that, today I fill in the last page of my 2017 running journal after jotting down this week’s total mileage and also coloring in my completed weekly bar graph of my efforts.

Another year of running.

Another year of lacing up my shoes even when I sometimes didn’t want to.

Another year of treading the familiar paths, circling the routes, looping the same paths.

Days without glory or transformation.

The routine of it, the sheer banality of the mundane workout.

Certainly there were inspired runs – those days where my mind was clear, the air crisp, a spring in my step and the road before me with welcoming possibility.

But probably more days when my legs were heavy and I plodded, the same obsessive thoughts ruminating in my brain.

Life is just like that, I guess.

You take the good with the bad, the joy with the pain.

You keep waddling on.

But at the end of each year I can look at my book and note how I kept at this thing called  life – I persevered. Yeah, I really did.

I could have quit but I see that there are no real empty pages; even the days I left blank are quickly followed by the next ones that get right back to the excruciating minutia:

Slow today. Started out slow, felt better. Felt like I was flying. Easy. Rain. Had to make myself go out. Felt better afterwards. Cramp, had to stop.

The phrases are never original, they’re different variations on the scene. The view from the side of the road, where guys yell at you, cars intimidate, and even the other young runners seem to smirk as you pass.

These are the notes of a compulsive runner, or an obsessive something or other. Or  maybe a person who wants to simply take notes on her own life. Someone who believes that if she writes it down, there must be some worth there.

Maybe it’s simply that at the end of the day, even if nothing else happened in it, at least the run felt like something, at least I can say I was there.

The day didn’t run past me, I tried my best to run along with it.

I got out there. I made an effort.

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions, or we simply take stock of where we have been, and set new goals, look to the future. I think we do this to stay positive, because we want to believe that deep down there is a better version of ourselves that is hiding out.

I’d like to say that I think that we are already there – we are already the best, most shining self, right this very minute, this week, this month.

We are the ones who wake up in the mornings with the best intentions and even if we’re depressed and end up staying in bed, than maybe that’s simply the best we can do.

And when I leaf through my running journal it feels like a testament to this stick-to-it-ness.

Did the running make me a better person (or even more fit?)

Probably not.

But I think it might be in the reflection, the recognition of my own intention, that’s the data that might be tallied in that stupid bar graph.

I run, therefore I am.

And for each one of you, you can fill in your own blank, making note of what fills in the lines with color. Cooking a real meal. Walking on your lunch hour. Meditating for 10 minutes. Calling a parent. Writing in a journal.

They are the daily things you do that give your life an epicenter, that sustain you, even though they are often hard and usually not very rewarding in a tangible way.

So it’s 2018 and let’s hear it for us – let’s accept all 365 of last year’s days, whether they were worth noting or not.

Maybe this year we can fill in our pages and just be grateful that there’s a place to write at all. Seconds, minutes, days, weeks, they run past us as we try to keep up.

But they are ours, some kind of amazing gift that requires only that we show up, be seen, especially by our own selves.

And let’s realize that we are just so good, so perfect, every day of the 365, just the way we are.

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