Measured breaths

Alaska HwyRight now, I want nothing more than to steal away into my hills—to run my way up and down to and from the caldera at the top of my local hill, leaping over the volcanic shelves and tapping rhythmically through the ruts the rain carves in the soft dirt.

It’s so odd. Work has gotten quiet in the last couple of days, but I’m finding myself overwhelmed—my mind isn’t quiet. My baby slept through the night a few days ago, but I couldn’t seem to coax myself to drift off. I need to let the anxiety go somehow, to take a few deep breaths and soak up some exertion.

“People change. The earth is always changing.” –author and physics professor Jack Weyland to me in a private conversation 12 years ago

It seems like change is the only immutable constant anymore. And if you don’t make it happen, it will inevitably happen to you. And who wants to have life happen to them?

My wife signed up for a triathlon a few weeks ago—one with a pancake-flat bike course. Her goal was just to finish. Today, the race organizer announced a switch to a much hillier bike course. That got me excited, but it left my wife pretty stressed.

When I called to let her know, I knew I’d stress her out. I probably should’ve saved the call for later, but it gave me a chance to stress out about something else besides my own work pressures. Sometimes, it’s nice to stress out about a race instead of work.

Then tonight, I got a phone call from my brother. He’s running in a half-marathon in the morning, and he knows he’s not sufficiently trained for it. “But doesn’t that make it all the more exciting?” I asked.

I love that. I feed off of it. Standing at the foot of some mountain, or at some snow-covered finish line 11,000 feet above sea level and knowing—knowing—I’d bitten off more than I could chew. And feeling completely overwhelmed.

There’s nothing quite like it—it’s like feeling alive.


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