“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the now the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle
As daylight has started to linger longer into the evening, my runs have begun that transition to spring as well. No flashlights, no shadows. Just total visibility.
And photo opportunities, of course.
Like the first blooms of the season.
And lots of funky school kid finds.
I’m enjoying it a lot.
But as my half marathon training plan nears its peak, my weekend long runs are becoming more and more intimidating. Each one has been preceded by a bit of nervous planning and a tiny bit of self-doubt about my ability to achieve the distance. This past weekend’s 11-miler had me feeling really anxious with anticipation. So much so that I had a tough time actually getting out the door. Which route should I take? Which route will hurt the least on the back three or four miles? How should I hydrate? When should I fuel? How should I pace this? Should I take it easy or really push? How will I recover after?
With a rough (albeit unsure) plan in mind, I finally just gave up and headed out the door. After I got going, my brain was still filled with anxious chatter about my pace, my strategy, etc. It didn’t quiet down until I noticed this man and his basset hound about two miles in.
As I approached, I couldn’t take my eyes off of this dog. His tail happily wiped from side…to side…to side. He ambled slowly from grass patch to grass patch, his nose leaving no scent unprocessed. He’d pause and look up at his owner from time to time with what I swear was a smile. There was clearly no direction or urgency.
Never have I seen a creature so thoroughly or joyfully immersed in the present moment. He luxuriated in the day without a worry in the world. He wasn’t holding a grudge that his breakfast had been late that morning or feeling stressed that he might have a delay getting outside to relieve himself that evening. The current moment was where he was living.
As I watched his leisurely pace and obvious contentment, I felt my whole body sigh. Why was I ruining the current mile of this run by stressing out about what might or might not happen seven or eight miles from now? This mile is all I have. This moment is all I have. Enjoy. Savor. Be grateful. Be here.
And so it went. I stopped worrying about the mile ahead and simply enjoyed the one I was in. Before I knew it, I was home, 11.4 miles behind me.
Obviously there’s a time for intensity and a need to push oneself in order to improve. But not at the expense of one’s joy.