Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday Scribblings: The next step

When the gun explodes, her heart flutters in nervous anticipation.

This is the day she has been looking forward to for months. She's trained for this moment and she feels ready. She is proud of herself. As she crosses the line with just over 100 other men and women of all ages, tears of happiness and nervousness forming in the corner of her eyes. She lets out a cheer with others around her, then focuses on the task at hand.

Lady Gaga is singing on her iPod, and she has stored a few hours' worth of songs to accompany her on this journey.

As they file down Main Street, the sun poking between highrises, she wills herself to relax and not start out too strong. Glancing down at her watch, she sees she has started out too fast, so she backs off. The leader she had hoped to follow isn't around, so she simply settles into a comfortable rhythm and tries to be in the moment, not thinking about the next few hours or when she will finish.

They head off the roads and onto the trails, eventually turning into the gravel paths through the marshes. The ground crunches under her shoes as they hit it in a steady rhythm.

Within a few kilometres, she begins to worry that something is not quite right.

Her left achille's tendon has starten to tighten up. Now, her left foot has started to fall asleep. It feels like pins and needles poking through her foot. As though she's running on a stump. Although her foot is asleep, it's strangely painful.

Worry and anxiety begin to gnaw at her mind. She begins to slow down, and more and more of the group begins to pass her by. The confidence and strength she felt only half an hour ago begin to fade away.

Something is wrong.

Should she stop?

Just keep going to the next station. If it's still bad, she can stop there.

Meanwhile, although the sun is rising, she worries that she may not have dressed warmly enough. Her hands are chilled, and her arms. But she tells herself to trust in her preparations. It will get warmer, soon. She hopes.

This isn't the way it was supposed to be. 

Despite the crowds who have gathered on the boardwalk to cheer them on, she feels trapped inside her own mental struggle.

She wants to quit.

The wind rustles through dry cattails beside the path.

Why is she doing this?  

As she passes the halfway mark, suddenly she remembers a Chinese proverb one of her friends had sent her before she set out:

“To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a  time, but we must keep on stepping.”

It's then, at the moment where she could have given up and walked back to the start line, that she looks down at the gravel path, takes a deep breath, and takes the next step.

Two and a half hours later, she finishes her first marathon, exhausted and drained. Her husband holds her in his arms, telling her how proud he is.

It will take months for her to come to terms with the fact that she did not meet her initial goals, and to realize that the biggest achievement was in putting her head down and putting one foot in front of the other, when all she wanted to do was quit.

Eventually, she feels pride again for the perseverance that made her take that next step.


1 comment:

wordwitch said...

AMEN!...uh...AWOMAN! Christine. One foot in front of the other all the way to the finish line.