If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

The year of resilience

2023 is nearing the end, and as of today, a week before it's in the rear view window, I have to say, it's been one of the best years for me. There's still time to crash me with something, completely unexpected, or totally in the possible realm of my life, but in those days since December 23, 2022, it's been great. No, I didn't discover anything new for myself, or learned a skill. I exercised what I am known to myself for - resilience. I actually had to look it up, because, using a word from the English dictionary by heart, as I do most of them, might sometimes put things awkwardly.

  • 1.the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
  • 2.the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity

Survival and suffering. Something we, Russians (no, not the governing bodies, but the people, the roots) are so good at, sadly. Focusing on a small step right in front of me, and making it happen. Head down, harness over, plow in tow. 3,200 miles and 180 hrs on the stationary bike, over 200 hrs of weight training later, this is exactly how unglamorous it looks like.

I truly am grateful for the accident that happened exactly 365 days ago. It reminded me, no, not to slow down (that hasn't happened, yet). But to step aside from the mill, and refocus. How much do I love it? Or, rather, how much do I need it? A whole bunch. So, without grandiose plans of "coming back", I did - twice. 2 surgeries later, I'm running, again. Doing the one thing I know how to, love, NEED. My survivals IS my running. My absolutely (more often than not) unexciting, no frills, grudgingly putting the shoes on, and stepping outside the door, at dark-o'early, circling and making turns on local streets around my house, almost mindlessly, for a mere hour. Then, on the days my schedule allows me, driving to a trailhead, and circling paths over the well-worn steps there, as well.

All for the sake of those occasional, breathtaking, deep-into-the-woods or the mountains, long explorations, with sunrises over the horizon, reminding me, that every day happens, like an every breath I take. We live. No matter what. There's beauty in it, by itself.

Challenge. Why do I want to put myself through it? Mainly, I don't know another way. I don't judge if someone doesn't feel the NEED. I do. I'm scared, every damn time. I scold myself for this pull, I even say I wish I didn't have it - but I don't really wish it. I don't know another way to live.

I over-scheduled myself for the next year, big time. I've done a similar thing so, so many times, before. I'm an impulsive and emotional soul. I tell myself I will give myself a grace to not do all the things, to step away if my body or mind feels like it's too much. I promise it. The truth is, I rarely do. But, the knowing that I can, that I allow for it, makes it less daunting, and more acceptable. Just like every mile I run, every hard repeat I push, I always, always say in my mind: "You can quit after this one, it's the last" - and then, more often than not, I don't quit. 

While I'll be ok if I don't complete all the things I have put my name into, each of them has a meaning. Yes, they are, somehow, either free, or at a deep discount, so financially, pulling out is justified. Yet emotionally, I have a reason to do each of those. I am either curious, or going to see my best freinds, or have a desire for this specific course, or this specific distance as a challenge...I also feel like I am running out of time. At 54, I don't know how much longer my body has got it. Not sure about this knee with the reduced capacity after the surgeries. Totally afraid of losing the drive, because how to live without it is beyond my comprehension. What if this "need" is not dished out indefinitely? 

It's a weird connection. It's a kindness to my soul, nobody believes I have for myself. But, I do. I have no hopes, no expectations. I just do the work. 

I am not an overly excited (or exciting) person. May be also a Russian in me. I don't explode in laughter often, don't get overstimulated easily in either positive or negative way, don't burst into eagerness. (You should ask my friends when they text me "Are you excited for the next adventure" to me and get back "Oh, shut up, I don't know this feeling"). What I do know the feeling of is accomplishing what you suddenly came up with for yourself for some odd reason (or lack of) and being satisfied with the effort. The feeling that "putting the work" was for something more than daily grind in its own right. My adventures and dreams are tiny in a big scheme of things, in the real world of adventures, but they are meaningful to me, and that all that matters.

I don't believe the miracles. In fact, I don't quite believe in the results of hard work, either. So many things can happen, that are completely outside of my control. They did happen, in the last 365 days. I let myself cry. I wipe my tears, and keep putting one foot in front of another. Quite literally. What I do believe in, is my own response to life's events, big and small. Because this is the only thing I have some power over. Maybe not right away, in the moment, but then, you take a deep breath, put your head down, a harness over, attach the plow - and grind. Do the work. Plus, this thing - is "just" running, after all.

I'm thankful, the accident happened. It let me exercise the thing I am best at - resilience. It allowed me to explain myself - to myself. It's shaken me out of the rut, possibly from the outside viewed as seemingly putting me into another rut, but to me, rewiring the meaning - I "NEED" this, not just want this. This movement, this strength, this prove, to myself, that I can come back, regardless. I don't have aspirations to inspire anybody. I simply want to be capable of doing it for myself.

Any time you are given the opportunity to do something really hard, or really crazy (especially the combination of both), you should definitely take it. Courtney Dauwalter. 

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