It can be a little trying living in moments, because right now it seems like moments are what mark my days. They are sometimes physical, sometimes emotional, but perpetually swinging on some sort of pendulum that pauses only so briefly for relief at the end of it’s arc before careening back in the other direction.
Most notably, I’m seeking moments of physical relief, marked by four 5 hour intervals in which I swallow a vicodin and wait for the wave of comfort and energy to wash over me. If nothing else of value determines my day, these small moments of comfort certainly do, and I seek them out with a scheduled determination that rivals any programmed machine. I am my own clockwork. I take the vicodin, wait an hour and bask in that moment, that realization that the small pains and larger lethargy have dissipated. Where I was uncomfortable and almost unable to work up the energy for the most simple conversation, I find myself in a moment of physical freedom and opinions spilling from my mouth like an overturned faucet. I do love those moments.
Then sometimes those moments seem almost stretched out on “good days”, strung together like xmas lights, each one lighting up a portion of my day, so close in proximity that I think an entire morning is good or an entire afternoon. On those days I feel good, almost healthy, and I make the effort to do something physical strenuous like riding my bike around the city, or when I’ve planned ahead, to even get out for a run. The point is that at every opportunity, I try to make the best of the moments, because I can’t rely on having good “days”. Right now, I can rely on the moments that come with medicinal relief and those seemingly extended moments that just happen to show themselves on various mornings.
Like I said, it’s trying to live like this, never to rely on guaranteed comfort or physical ability, unable to plan ahead for more valuable moments, especially when pre-cancer I shaped my life around these guaranteed moments. Prior to cancer I held to my mantra, “Do something amazing every day”. I held to that mantra because I could, because without fail I could rely on my running efforts to fulfill that quota, to give me those moments. And I miss that.
Right now, in this moment (influenced by a “good day” coupled with pain medicine), I want another chance so badly. I want to start over. I want to push the reset button on my running. To zero everything out. To be placed right back on square one. To start over and have another chance. I verbalize this for two reasons. First, I want those moments again. I want those epic experiences where I pushed my body past boundaries I didn’t think I could reach in the first place, hitting distances and speeds that seemed superhuman. I want those moments back. And second, I want to know what my TRUE running abilities are when my body is cancer-free.
Regarding the second consideration, this cancer is very slow growing, so it’s quite probable that I’ve been struggling against it for over a year, possibly two years back. As I’ve touched on before, I struggled HARD with my running in the last month or two before cancer showed it’s face, and the effects of it’s growth undoubtedly worked against my running abilities, so I can’t help but wonder how far back it was compromising my work. There were times I questioned my ability to progress, shaking off the “you’re getting too old’s”, to put in more work, but only making nominal forward movement. I just couldn’t seem to regain that strength I once had not but a year prior. And now, I can’t help but wonder if cancer was playing a part in all this. Who knows? But I do know I at least deserve the chance to find out, to start all over and build my fitness back up without cancer getting in the way.
But here’s the thing…I’m saying this now in the context of a “good” moment. Because all systems are firing and I feel good and I can imagine this happening again. I can imagine the strength filling my body again and my drive to succeed taking over once again, because I’m in the moment.
But this is rare.
To be totally honest, most of my days are consumed with the thought that my competitive running days are done. That my running days, period, are done. However, EVERY thought is in the context of the moment, and unfortunately my days are strung together with moments of self-doubt, lethargy, and physical discomfort. To even consider the act of running in this context is just absurd and I deeply question if cancer has taken this away from me, the one act I’ve been able to rely on for so much daily value for the past 7 or 8 years.
Fortunately, I know what it is to doubt, and to do so in context. I’ve been there with my running in the past. I’ve been in those moments where I’ve said, “Fuck it. I’m done. This just isn’t working. I’m moving on in life.”, and yet two months later I’m screaming, “OH hell yeah! Bring it on!”, because these are the thoughts in context. Every runner knows the all-consuming desperation during times of debilitating injury, and we equally know the superhuman strength we feel after crushing our hardest workout. We are creatures of context.
And this is where I am right now, my days more often overcast by negativity and desperation instead of brightened by hope and excitement. It sucks, to say the least, because the longer those overcast skies hang around, the deeper I sink into the context of negative thought, which does no one good. And for that I am incredibly grateful for these days, like today, where the pendulum has swung heavily towards the other side of context, into moments filled with comfort, energy and corresponding thoughts of positivity, where I can look past cancer and see me putting one foot in front of the other again, quickly, with deep breaths, and unceasing drive.
And that is what is always to be remembered, that life is just a matter of context. In a state of negativity, we will be negative. In a state of positivity, we will be positive. The goal then is to shape that context, either through thought or action, to build those moments of value until you’ve strung so many of them together that your context is only of value. It’s not an easy task no matter how succinctly stated, and I, admittedly, struggle with it now, but it is also not insurmountable. Even in the face of a life-threatening illness I fight to keep it all in context, to know that with a great deal of expertise and a little bit of luck, this will all be temporary and I’ll be back to running again, starting from square one.
I’ll see you out there under brightened skies.