I lace up my running shoes and begin the Couch to 5k running program. I see a recorded running session from May of 2020 when I had restarted the program, and successfully completed it eight weeks later.

I have lost track of how many times I have done this program and had to start from the beginning — from square one.

I try to not let the past detour me from the moment I am in or where I want to go next.

Earlier that day, I had received a meme from a loved one that had the words: “Small Steps in the Right Direction are Better Than Big Steps in the Wrong Direction.”

I would hold onto that now as I look forward to making progress, even if it means I had to start over. I am not sure why that feels so daunting when we are faced with doing that in life.

I do not just mean this running program; it could be anything in our life that leads us back to a familiar road and what seems like the beginning.

Last spring and summer during the midst of the pandemic and other times in my life, running became a way that I could feel stronger, and not just physically. There is an emotional and psychological factor in it too.

Sometimes, we need to find ways to build ourselves up. For me that was running.

And although I have run down that same road, which is the one by the family cabin, many times, there was something different this day.

The scenery on some roads may appear similar, but if you look closely, you notice there have been changes.

The world is healing and returning to a more “normal” state, and we are all different than we were the year prior.

We may have drifted apart from people who we were not able to meet in the middle when having opposing views on handling life during a pandemic.

We may have experienced loss and pain. We may have gained joy and love. We may have changed jobs, addresses, friends, hobbies, schools – perspective.

Our paths are altered somehow as time changes life as we go through our days. And sometimes, we want so much to hold onto the familiar as we often find solace in our norm, and in our comfort zones.

When it feels like we are starting on the same path again, know that we bring something else with us – our life experience.

For example, that particular road by the cabin has a lot of hills.

The year prior, I would turn around before I would get to the hills, and I spent the rest of the summer avoiding the hills.

So that day – in June of 2021 – I ran up the hills. I did not stop. I did not change my course. I did not turn around. So, yes, a familiar road, but I was different – maybe stronger than I thought and maybe I was not starting over after all.

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