A girl and her cat take on the world with nothing more than a cup of tea and a good book and enough dreams to fill the universe.
In October, for my birthday, a friend asked me what I would write down in my book of life, what piece of advice or wisdom had I learned that was worth sharing. I hadn’t really thought about it before. That year one of the foremost thoughts in my mind had been “Holy cow, you’re a runner.” It was unexpected. It felt foreign and strange, but I loved it. I still love it. I responded to her with the cliched “Be prepared to be surprised – especially by yourself.” She laughed at that and asked me to try again. Yet, I was stuck on that phrase and, while it’s overused and a little cheesy, it rang true to me.
I’ve done a lot of crazy things in my life so far. I was a foreign exchange student at 16 in France. I student taught on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (a school district that scored only better than inner-city Detroit out of all the school districts in the United States). I moved to a completely new town (and very small town) where I knew no one months before my teaching job started and only a month and a half after graduating college in a town I’d lived in for six years. I got lost in the woods with my mom when I was four and had to be rescued by a helicopter. I received my first tattoo on a bet. Out of all the crazy, life-changing, awesome story-making things I’ve done so far, running sticks out the most. I never dreamed I would be a runner, had never even entertained the possibility.
When I was in high school, I was the cross-country team’s manager for a year. The coach had told my parents that if he had a couple more years, he’d get me off the bike I rode around on after the runners, and onto my feet. Six years after that, the summer before my senior year, I started running. Who knew that running would become my new addiction? That I would have a drawer in my kitchen loaded up with goo and nuun and energy blocks? Or that I would have run enough miles in a year and a half to be on my third pair of running shoes? Not me, and yet here I am.
The surprise is still there when I roll out of bed at 5 AM to go run 5 miles or when I’m standing on the starting line of a race. The surprise was still there when I registered for my second and third half marathons. The surprise was there when I cross the finished line of my first half marathon, a week after graduating college, soaked to the bone by the rain that hadn’t let up the whole 2 hours and 45 minutes I’d been running. It’s there when I find myself running faster than I ever thought I could. It’s never gotten old. It’s never faded away, not even in the worst of cold temperatures and high winds or hot and still days when it takes all of my willpower to get out the door.
These were the thoughts that raced through my mind as I tried to come up with something less cliched and boring than “be prepared to be surprised,” but it was stuck. It was all I had. Running had taught me that more than anything else in my life. Running has introduced me to a self that I had never thought possible. It had introduced me to pain and release, euphoria and a quiet mind, that empty space where it’s just the rhythm of your shoes on the pavement in a peaceful beat that urges you on and on.
In the end, I’ll continue to be prepared to be surprised because I have no idea if the it will last, but for the moment, for the now, the surprise is there with every new mile, with every panting breath.
Push your mind, get inspired & be on top of the world.
Brought Together By a Love of Running
I discuss fossils
No One Here But a Writer Who Gets Up and Try
Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller
Psychological, thriller, mystery, secrets, betrayal, adoption, romance, poetry, art
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Stefan Falke photographs artists who live and work along the 2000 miles long U.S.- Mexico border to document the vibrant culture of the region on both sides. All photos © Stefan Falke (use with written permission by the author only)