Seasoned writers always say: Start in the middle. So screw introductions, let's eat.
I'm at the gym last night when a news story catches my attention. I'm running and grumbling because I've been tapering for my first marathon for a week, and the amount of endorphins and serotonin NOT flowing through my ventricles has produced a physical and mental code red.
I typically block out the TVs and focus instead on the rhythmic sound of robo-gym machines and the clank of weights hitting racks. But not last night.
A particular story caught my attention. The story was about 14-year-old Isaac Lufkin, a Rhode Island high school freshman who tried out and became the kicker of his varsity football team. He's about 5'6 and weighs about as much as a hellfire missile. He dreams of going to the NFL. In seventh grade, he was a defensive lineman. Oh, and, he was born without arms, a situation he describes as, "It is what it is."
As I was running carefully on this Proform treadmill, it occurred to me that as runners we sometimes view injuries as devastating obstacles that get in the way of our training -- our perfectly planned, meticulously calculated training plans that are designed to deliver a race time, a body weight, or whatever the goal may be. I know I'm guilty of it.
Sometimes we forget that the state of everything functioning properly and perfectly with no obstacles is not a given...and it might not even be a privilege. Perhaps its a trap, like that first brush with a discreet sociopath, where flawlessness becomes the new standard and suddenly nothing else can capture the attention. Maybe it's a trick, like thinking there is a perfect grade, perfect number, perfect weather conditions, perfect travel day, perfect parking spot, perfect haircut, perfect omelet viscosity to be obtained and anything short of it is a drag, bummer, fail, dud, mis-fire. (This has never happened to me.)
That standard will f'ing eat you alive.
On this treadmill, hooded-Crossfitter dying of a heatstroke beside me, I glance down at my knee, and I am overcome with this concept called heart. And the fact that I have a knee.
Heart is where you get up and feel grateful for a day to relish in the glory of your existence and change that which doesn't serve you.
Heart is the will to accept new normals and set new goals.
Heart is the idea that you are not reaching for perfection, that you are reaching for your own brand of greatness.
Heart is the idea that greatness comes in so many varieties that keep breeding, like Publix frozen yogurt flavors.
Heart is an American rockband led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson.
Heart is the thing inside you that says, "It's going to be better than okay. Because I'm getting back up."
Where did my personal heart production system disappear to for the last week? Where does heart hide sometimes?
Maybe it hides behind the safety of dropping expectations. Maybe it crouches behind the couch, hoping you'll just give up. Maybe it hides under the covers when you get out of bed some days, because you can get by without it.
But maybe there are ways to take heart with you every day, the way you take your keys with you when you leave the house. The way you put your shoes on. Maybe heart could be less like your parking ticket at the airport and more like an extremity that you never leave behind or lose completely.
Most likely, as he wrestles into his football pads in the locker room every day, Isaac Lufkin remembers to bring heart with him. He has to, otherwise that uniform might be crumpled up in a corner somewhere. His heart is his keys.
Let your heart be your keys. You can't start without it. You can sit in the car and beat on the steering wheel, but who does that?
Where To Catch Me