Wk 8: 5 runs, 5 walks / ran 23.5km / 5k in 22:15
A few weeks ago, my brother-in-law and I sat down to watch a Hulu original called 11.22.63, based on a book written by Stephen King. English teacher Jake Epping finds himself traveling in time to stop the JFK assassination. His time traveling mentor, Al, repeatedly warns Jake: the past pushes back – it resists change. It’s been 56 days since I committed to daily exercise and I affirm Al’s warning.
Our past pushes back. It resists change.
If you’ve been following my daily exercise commitment, you'll remember that our family has effectively been living with my in-laws since Mother’s Day weekend. It’s been a gift to be with family during this difficult season – a gift to work remotely, to serve family well, and to journey this challenge with our kids.
It’s also been relatively easy to get up each day and walk or run – a sacred time for my mind to rest, wrestle, and process. There have been days across the last fifty where I didn’t want to exercise – sore legs, a packed schedule, failure to go early in the morning, and no desire to run in triple digit heat.
Even in those tougher days, however, the decision to exercise didn’t feel like a choice. I run or walked because I needed it. Sanity dictated I would exercise.
Week 8 started in similar fashion. It opened with my birthday. Eager to attack year forty-four with my own vision for a bigger life, I ran my fastest 5k to date. I ran on air and adrenaline. It felt great.
Day two I got my run in early. The day was full of meetings, and when it all ended, I loaded up the car. My eldest and I were heading home for a few days. We didn’t want to miss his sixth-grade promotion – apparently that has become a thing since I was in sixth grade – and despite COVID restrictions, we wanted him to be as present as possible with his peers.
Wednesday I said no to a morning run. Then, the day got busy – preparing for promotion, my own work and work meetings, his promotion zoom call, and evening plans to celebrate with friends (socially distanced, of course). Afternoon turned to evening - still no time for exercise.
Resistance prowled. I readied my own excuses.
Early in the War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes,
"Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance."
He goes on to personify this Resistance as the barrier to becoming who we are called to become. That unlived life within yearns to break out – but for Resistance.
I plowed through the War of Art this week, and enjoyed Pressfield’s no bull, nearly mystical approach to getting on with living our unlived life within.
Back to that evening, with a tight window between "now" and "pizza celebration," I told my son we needed to get some exercise.
He gave me that, “you can’t be serious” look. I said, "Please?" He gave in. with a nod. The ask wasn’t easy. I didn't want to exercise, and neither did he.
More than that, I didn't want the momentum to end - so I asked. Fifty-one days of consecutive exercise felt substantial. I didn't want it to end.
It was just a 25 minute walk, but it counted. I logged my 20 minutes of daily exercise.
More than that, it opened a beautiful moment for the two of us. As we walked, we talked - about his elementary career, his reflections and dreams, his fears about junior high.
The best part? After a few minutes of walking side-by-side, he grabbed my hand. Yep. You read that right. My sixth grade son grabbed my hand while we walked around our neighborhood. I melted. We talked. Hand in hand.
Pushing through day 52 gave me renewed energy for the days 53-56. Momentum steadied me against Resistance.
The next morning, I ran another 5k, and when the week closed I had logged my more kilometers (23.5) than any prior week. My back's not sore. My knees are holding up. This one-day-at-a-time commitment is changing me, even in the face of Resistance.
For Pressfield, we overcome Resistance by turning professional. Later in the War of Art he writes, “the professional is prepared each day to confront his own self-sabotage…his goal is not victory, but to handle himself, his insides, as sturdily and steadily as he can.”
The professional is becoming grounded, and in that grounded-ness he finds increasing self-awareness and strength. I think Pressfield is right about this. In our professionalism – in that grounded strength – our unlived life within can awake.
I know mine is waking. It wakes a bit more each day – as momentum builds, alongside confidence, self-awareness, and strength to handle myself – “as sturdily and steadily” as I can.
What about you? Are you living your unlived life within? If not, what's holding you back?