At the beginning of this 2011th year I was not a happy girl. I know that there was a lot going on that was contributing to my unhappy mood. My body wasn't the body that I recognized from America. PC work wasn't moving at the pace at which I was trying to push it along at. I was living in a space the size of a shoebox with the walls closing in a little bit more everyday. All of these combined with the general woes of a first year Peace Corps Volunteer, like missing home were getting me pretty down. As a whole I was just pretty unimpressed with how far I hadn't come in the 11 months since I left home. I joined Peace Corps to get to know myself a little bit better and it seemed like I was becoming more and more of a stranger.
I don't really remember the exact moment where I remember snapping back into the Maggie that I know and love, but it happened, and it was beautiful. I've always been someone who made New Years Resolutions, and kept them. And though I didn't resolve to do this on New Years Day I did, at some point in the month of January, resolve to find happiness again, 'ya know, put myself back together.
Back together for me, apparently, means running. As I said, I don't really remember the exact date of this resolution, but I do know that I woke up the next morning and went for a run. I didn't plan it, but I think I knew that running makes me happiest fastest. I am sure that there are other avenues to happiness, but for me, running is the ticket.
Running gave me the calm to deal with procrastinating villagers and finally get me my new, bigger hut built. Actually, running gives me the calm to deal with all things relating to time in any way shape or form. I guess when you spend 30+ minutes in the morning trying to see how fast you can go, how far you can get, time the rest of the day is irrelevant. You learn to surrender to the clock. That is until the next morning, and then the race is back on.
Running gave me the body that I am familiar with back to me. Running also gave me the time I needed to think and reflect on family in friends that I had left back in America.
So, last month I ran my first marathon. That kind of running gave me 26.2 miles to ask myself exactly what the fuck it is that I am doing. I remember Body asking Mind at one point during the hilly race, "Hey!...Asshole! This was your fucking idea. Are you feeling this pain? I would just like you to know that I had nothing to do with this. This was all your grand idea. I just wanted to check in with you and make sure you feel what you are doing to me. I hope that being able to say 'I'm a runner,' (she rattles in a snotty voice) is worth all of this for you, because this isn't even going to be the half of it. I am going to make sure that your next few days are complete and total hell. Every step is going to be a reminder of your brilliant fucking idea."
My Mind then stops and thinks to herself, without letting Body know that she is having second thoughts, "Nope...this is probably not worth it."
And then I started thinking to myself. “Mind, you decided to do this because you were not well, and you wanted to be. Body you carried her through all of the miles of training and never argued. Not once. Not with so much as a black and blue toenail. So we are doing this, we are finishing this and we will all be happy when this is all over.”
Since moving to my very Christian village, I’ve taken to telling people that running is my church. When I go on my longer more meditative runs on Sunday mornings. Running has always been my church. It is mindless and lovely for me. It makes me a better person. After a good long run the world always makes more sense. Through running I have learned that there are no problems that can’t be solved with a little bit of selfish love.
I have a lot of time, post race, to reflect on this mid race premonition. I have since realized that the pep talk came from somewhere deep within. As cheesy as it sounds I have decided that it was the more spiritual part of me finally speaking up during my longest session of “church” to date. Through trying to clean up Mind and Body, I found Spirit.
I have never believed in religion. When it comes up in conversation, at least in my Midwestern roots, it has always meant a Christian God, which I knew I didn’t believe in. The thought of Him never really did anything for me. I have however always believed in a Higher Power, and the power of just having some sort of faith. I have always believed in believing. I think, up until now that has been good enough for me. Just believe in something…anything, and you will get through.
So at the beginning of this month I made a second resolution. Believing in something isn’t good enough for me anymore. I want to know what I believe. Gratitude, the good in others, and knowing that you are happy and at peace with all of your decisions are all things that have me currently yearning to feel more aware.
I think that everyone has one part of the Mind, Body and Soul, trio that comes a little harder for him or her than the other two. Who knows how long this hunt will last. All I know is that one month in and it feels like I am just getting started.
“We run to undo the damage we’ve done to body and spirit. We run to find some part of ourselves yet undiscovered.” ~John “The Penguin” Bingham
“For me, running is a lifestyle and an art. I’m far more interested in the magic of it than the mechanics.” ~Lorraine Miller