Run Off A Cliff

I’m running. I’m running as much as my poison filled extremities will allow me to run, my feet becoming shredded as the continuous rubbing peels the flesh from the pads of my feet, the ends of my toes, and anywhere else skin touches skin…but I do it anyways. And, even to my own surprise, I’m getting stronger and stronger, faster and faster, as if I’ve begun slowly building towards another go at taking down my marathon PR. And it feels AWESOME….and yet also a little absurd. Absurd, because at some point down the road all this effort, all this strength, all this speed will be undeniably lost. It will be lost to either an inevitable, metaphorical cliff that ends in a relatively abrupt death or it will be lost to the forced paralysis of cancer killing surgery and recovery, confined to the hospital bed for weeks on end as before. I will, if all goes as we HOPE, watch my muscles atrophy, feel my bones pressed up against skin, and feel my lungs deflate to nothing but thin receptacles for weakened gasps of breath. There will be no marathon at the end of my training. There will be no goal race, no triumphant breaking of the tape, no basking in the glory of an effort that was pushed beyond all previous expectations. There will only be weakened breaths…or none at all. So, you understand why it all seems a little a futile. SEEMS.

Because, you know what, whether I’m running off a metaphorical cliff that is only temporary or one that is inevitably permanent…I’m running off that damn thing. Isn’t that how you’d rather do it? Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the cliff awaiting me is permanent. That means the path I’m on has only one direction, one trajectory, and there is no avoiding that, so tell me, would you rather be drug towards the edge of that cliff and thrown off screaming and wailing in despair….or would you rather start kicking up dust behind you, running faster and faster, stronger and stronger, and just as you hit the edge of that deadly drop, extend your arms out to the side, lift your face to the sky then pretend to soar as your feet leave the ground?

I’ll tell you what I’d prefer.

I’d prefer to get up every morning and start running. I’d prefer to expand my lungs over and over, feel the sweat accumulate and thrown off the end of my elbows, hit the ground with the force of my body reverberating back into my building muscles, activate the neurons that fill me with the emotional power of gods, and lay weak and depleted on the ground when I’ve burned up all the fuel in my reserves and then feel the wave of relief and accomplishment wash over me like a cooling tide, filling me with each slowing rise and fall of my chest. And I’d prefer to do that every morning, over and over, again and again, even if each day brings me closer to that unavoidable cliff.

And at some point, should that cliff come into sight, and it becomes deeply recognized that there is no other path to take, no diverging option, no alternative path….then that’s when I’d not only extend my reach outward, but also begin to run even faster until I’ve broken into an all out sprint.

Some of us aren’t fortunate enough to see the cliffs in our lives and spend our days in varied states of wishing and hoping, anger and frustration, always preparing to do something great..until we stumble right off the edge. So with this realization that my own cliff may lay off in the distance should nothing else we try divert me towards a continued path of stable ground, I’m going to keep running and running, getting stronger and faster…if not for the immediate reward I get at the end of each powerful effort, then at least because I’ll be able to leap into the air knowing I’ve gotten as high as I possibly could.

And should my cliff drop towards a landing that leaves me only temporarily stunned, then the efforts will feel that less absurd, and that more rewarding when I find another path to start on at the bottom.

So, what would you rather do with the path of your life that leads toward an unavoidable cliff. Would you rather triumphantly run off the edge pretending to fly or despairingly walk off simply because you have no other way to go?

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6 responses to “Run Off A Cliff

  1. Trails and Ultras

    I’m always aware that ultimately we are all heading to the same destination, the only difference is the path we choose to take. I used to think ‘if I can look back at the end of my life with no regrets then I’ll be happy’. However I always used to procrastinate. This last year I’ve realised the end of my life may be next week, tomorrow or even right now. Its not necessarily twenty or so years in the future. For this reason I choose to run, and push myself to more extreme challenges. I know it won’t make any difference to the end result but for me its about living life to the full 🙂 also…I was very moved by your last post about your sister. I count my younger brother as one of my closest friends, perhaps I should make him more aware of that. Thank you

    • Thanks for your good words Trails and Ultras…I had some good conversations this weekend about mortality and the value in facing it, at SOME point in your life, the sooner the better and not in the face of disease. I’m glad you’ve found that moment.

  2. I look at all this as you giving “c” the big middle finger. Keep at it!

  3. I haven’t followed your blog for awhile, haven’t been getting any email updates and thought maybe you’d taken a break from writing, as in the last couple of posts I read, your running experience was a bit up and down.

    But I thought I should check out your site again, just in case, to see how your running and writing is doing. I’ve now spent two hours reading backwards through your recent emotional rollercoaster and.. I don’t have any experience with cancer nor with people really close to me dealing with stuff this brutal, so I’m stuck with a sense that I can’t write much about anything. But having read your blog in the past, really enjoyed your stories and your positive approach to veganism, for what it’s worth I want to say good luck in your fight. With neither of us seemingly being religious, “praying for you” doesn’t make sense, but I really hope to be reading your writing for a long time yet – stay strong!

    • Thank you for the good words Karl, and sorry you stumbled back onto my blog at this point…a roller coaster it sure has been. I still have hope that this will work out for the better, but as in running, only time will tell. Until then, I’m trying to keep on (living and running) as best I can. Thanks again.

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