I went for a run tonight. It was 5:30 rush hour in downtown Durham. I ran, weaving up and down streets. No headphones. Lots of cars. My more relaxed moments were on the side streets. I love the relative quiet closing in around me, the world fading out. It’s harder to find that feeling at this time of the day in downtown Durham! But, I had resolved to run, so I was going.
There are some moments I have while running when my head just isn’t in the game. Maybe I’m wondering why I’m here, if I am where I should be. Maybe it’s one of those moments where I look around me and only see the lack of what I truly want. Lately I’ve been dreaming of going to Sedona. I’ve never been there. I didn’t even know where it was until a few weeks ago when I read a reference to it in a book. Then somehow pictures of the mountains and canyons near Sedona made their way to me from a separate source. So I’m picturing the Southwest, all that space, that breathtaking wilderness. I want to be running there. Hell, maybe I want to be living there! What is my next place? I am itching to be in the adventurous place. To fall in with my tribe. Some part of me knows my real tribe isn’t here.
Questions to myself…
True or false: Emma belongs in Durham right now.
True or false: It’s time to plan the next move.
(excitement and energy)
The tough part is not trying to approach this mentally. Because I get all caught up in my own wires when I do that. I lose the inspiration, and am less likely to notice when that happens because I am leaning on my thoughts instead of my senses – and it’s through my senses and my extra-senses that I tap into that flow of inspiration. That’s the edge I want to be on.
And yet… there are these moments. Like on my run today, eventually I ended up on Campus Drive, between East and West Campus at Duke. And I just… wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t tired, just a little blah. So I walked for a bit. Tried to ease up on my mind and let go of the mental tightness. “Take it easy.” The Eagles came to me and I started singing. An invitation. Who knows. A bit later, nothing much had changed, but I decided to run. I didn’t want to take the time to walk all the way back, and I wasn’t magically enjoying myself more by walking instead of running. “Where is the flow?” I asked, as I ran up Oregon St. And I realized, somehow, through my mental stiffness… well, at least I’m moving now. If I keep moving I’ll probably find it. Moving feels better than stopping, so there’s that. And I sped up. Campus memories started coming to me. I ran by Devils Den, where we used to meet for P-Wild, a backpacking program I was a part of in college. A flood of memories washed over me. It was unexpected, and welcome. And that’s just life… sometimes it doesn’t feel good to go, and it doesn’t feel good to stop, but you’re in the middle of something and really, it’s worth it just to keep going and see what happens. There is always the guarantee that things are changing. Nothing is constant. So when things are weird, it’s true that something bright is around a corner. There’s just no guarantee where the corner is, hah! And there’s no guarantee that you can plan for these moments, plan your life in such a way that you’ll be happy all the time and avoid discomfort altogether. No… the discomfort will find you, even inside the places you love! I love running! And despite that, there are these moments where it feels like a grind. Because my mind can be a grind. And there’s nothing quite like running without music to put you right inside the knot of your mind, but also to help you work your way through and tease it out a little.
When I made it back to East campus I found my groove, and my legs lit up. Darkness was falling, which calmed and soothed me, made me feel more alone. I ran fast, gleefully.
Is this kind of how my life is? Am I in this part that feels like a knot, and do I want to jump out of it when it would serve me more to be a little patient, to loosen it up a little, work through it? The part of me that wants to up and leave – I feel her. Part of it is wildness and a desire for freedom. And that part of me is good. But I am also served by my ability to sit still in the middle of working through something. And maybe that’s where I am. I don’t want to be in Durham forever. I don’t want to work in software forever. I work on untangling complicated knots made of code, which has its fun and satisfying moments but also is a process that repeatedly makes me feel frustrated, impatient, slow, inadequate. Frequently I am thinking, ‘This isn’t what I was made for. My passion isn’t here.’ It’s especially tempting to retreat to those thoughts right now, since I’m putting more energy into writing, and it is SO heart-affirming… part of me thinks, why spend my energy on anything else? But there’s this balance to life, all the different parts of it, and I know I’ve messed with that too much before by trying to jump all in on the bright and shiny thing. Kind of like a new relationship. It’s so easy to lose track of the other things, to let yourself get swallowed up in that feeling of blissful, ecstatic love. It’s a kind of exercise, continuing with the parts of life that are more tedious. But a part of me knows… this is worth it. And so, I’m still here. I’m a little uncomfortable. Part of me doesn’t want to keep going, but going is better than stopping cold turkey, at least in this moment. I am in a flow. Maybe it feels like I lose it sometimes. But that’s what the process of untying a knot is. There are moments where you don’t feel the movement, you just have to be patient and work at it.
Takeaway thoughts… I do feel the magic in my life, so there’s no need for crazy sudden moves, you know? Keep writing. Keep working. Trust. Practice riding that edge of inspiration. I’m open. Life is good. I’m glad that I run! And I have no idea what’s around the next bend, which is… definitely… a good thing.