4,000 Miles (Almost)

“A year from now we’ll all be gone
all our friends will move away
And they’re goin to better places
But our friends will be gone away…”
—rivers and roads from the head and the heart

When you drive four thousand miles (almost) in less than one month, you assume that, somewhere in one of seven states, you will encounter a great blog post waiting to be written.

But even the longest car ride is too short when in good company.

I guess I was too busy talking to listen—or too busy listening to others talking—that I failed to hear what was happening around me.

It takes a special intentionality, after all, to catch a story.

So I write today not because I have a great story to tell, but because the greater story of my day-to-day is unraveling quickly. If I don’t write, I feel I will most certainly miss out on marking what was, and what continues to be, a spring of four thousand adventures (or more).

I do not know where I will be or what I will be doing three months from today. I wonder aloud how I always end up in this situation while acknowledging in secret that it is my own doing.

“I am continually amazed by the richness of life that just waits to be noticed, to be experienced,” I wrote in my journal last week. “This knowledge is like a rapid heartbeat in my mind, pushing me onto the next, the next, the next…”

I am currently training for a half marathon. Hopefully, come mid-May, there will be a triumphant blog post in which I explain how me, the girl who hates—HATED (past tense, positive thinking only)—to run, completed my first race. And not some fifty-meter dash warm-up. This is go big, or go home, half-marathon style.

But today, I’m just training.

Most days in Indiana, training in the spring means running in mud and getting rained on. One of the perks of traveling then is getting to run in places other than good ol’ I. N.

I spent Easter in Lancaster County, PA. While there, I learned two particularly important lessons, among many:

The first: Just because you are in PA–and eating Amish ice cream and going to farmers’ markets where you eat food from around the world and then eating candy while dyeing Easter eggs–does not mean that you can skip a training day for your upcoming race. It also will not improve your running time.

And just because you have been training for a half marathon since January does not mean that you are capable of running up a hill.

There is absolutely no part of my body that enjoys running up a hill. I don’t care how fun it is to come down.

From what I can deduce, my body is simply baffled by the entire concept.

Stop, it says. Something is wrong. You are trying to go up. Why are you trying to go up? That is impossible. 

I will also note, running up a hill is an entirely different thing than hiking up a hill. Colorado or no Colorado experience, hill or mountain, I don’t care. It’s the wrong direction.

But with Mr. Boyfriend toughing it out beside me (and looking great, dammit), what choice did I have?

So this is the second lesson I learned in Lancaster County, PA: Sometimes you have to run up a hill even if run is just about the least-accurate descriptor of what you are actually doing.

It felt like I was pulling, maybe walking while semi-crouched, perhaps better still, failing. But needless to say, not running.

Making progress is such a matter of perspective, isn’t it though?

I feel like I am relatively apt with words. Sometimes it seems to me that if you only phrase something right you can make anything sound like it is progress. 

(Oh yes, watching this popular TV show is giving me additional common ground so that I can better chitchat, enabling me to network with new people, who will potentially lead me to my dream job.)

After driving four thousand miles (almost) in one month, I tell myself that this is progress.

I made big decisions, I met new people, I shared significant time with significant others.

But as I’m running up this life-hill, some days it feels a little bit more wandering. The muscles are stretching and pulling and people next to me are somehow still beating me, and my entire being is asking, What are you doing?! 

Today, though, I pause.

I pause and breathe and re-ground myself. I pause and choose, intentionally, to look at the miles. You can’t argue with them. At least, I can’t. Four thousand miles (almost) is still (almost) four thousand miles, and the journey I’ve travelled in one month alone is one that I am proud of.

It is progress, because I choose it to be.

I don’t know where I will be in three months.

And really, you don’t know where you will be either.

But I think we share a mutual hope that we’ll both be moving, whatever that might mean, in whatever direction that might be. Maybe we’ll be trying something new, eating something delicious, completing something important, telling a friend how much we care or sharing a feeling we have never shared before. Maybe we will just be letting life unravel as fast as it damn well pleases and enjoying the ride all the while.

Even if the journey down isn’t quite worth the hellish run upward, perhaps the view from the top will help us see something that we could not or did not see before.

The options are endless (almost). And exciting (always).

“Been talkin’ bout the way things change.
And my family lives in a different state
If you don’t know what to make of this
Then we will not relate…
Rivers and roads
Rivers and roads
Rivers til I reach you…”

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2 thoughts on “4,000 Miles (Almost)

  1. Lynn

    Beautifully, beautifully written Vanessa. I am so glad you included a visit to us in your 4,000 mile trek………in real life and metaphorically. I am also glad to know the easter egg decorating was good for more than stain dyed hands (-: ………..Your writing reminds me of a quote I read this morning by Frederick Buechner: “Listen to your life. See if for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and lift itself is grace.” It sounds like you understand this so well………….(-:

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