This is somewhat off the beaten path for me re: blog content. Having said that, running during times of significant loss in my life has proven not only therapeutic but cathartic on many levels. All of us have or WILL face the loss of a loved one not once but numerous times over the course of a long life. Forget about our OWN finite nature – this is about the sense of significant loss that accompanies the death of someone who we cared about DEEPLY. There are NEVER words that can make the pain go away or any easier to deal with. If you have a SOUL and carry compassion as a natural part of your very being, you know what I mean. Dealing with the sense of TOTAL loss is NOT a celebration of life. For me, it’s a sense of being stranded in space – floating aimlessly as I vainly attempt to stabilize my very essence.
I have experienced this deep sense of loss more than a few times in my life – it’s always accompanied by intense hyper-activity, a loss of appetite, an inability to sleep deeply and a significant loss of body weight on a body that has NO extra weight to lose. In other words, I go into the tank (meaning a feeling of total emptiness) – not for 1 day, not for 2 days but for a number of days – depending on the significance of my loss. Loved ones around me get concerned – thinking I need some form of psychological counseling – when all I really need is to RUN. This weekend was no exception to the pattern. Having lost one of my 3 male heroes on December 20, I knew the ‘slump’ was coming. Saying a final ‘goodbye at the visitation and funeral this weekend was NOT a relief on any level. I stopped eating, stopped sleeping well, cried repeatedly at the drop of a dime and, quite simply, shut down.
Saturday morning arrived…-20 Celsius temperature BUT with a perfect, clear blue sky and brilliant sunrise as I started out on my 7:30 a.m. run. I also knew what was coming – a total emotional cleansing that only running alone in the early morning can bring me.Of course, generally, I follow the words above. However, having already severely frostbitten my feet running barefoot this winter, I donned my Skora ultra-thin, ultra-flex shoes with the barefoot-science inserts for this weekend’s wicked winter conditions. I started my 9 kilometre run in absolute solitude, interrupted by only 1 other runner and a few cars driving by. With no wind, I was able to ‘hear’ my loved one ‘calling’ me – “Jeffy…what in God’s name are you doing out here in -20 Celsius temperatures?? Well, at least you have SOMETHING on your feet!” If you’ve never experienced this, it will seem like the insights of a mad man. All I know is that encounters like this happen regularly with me – and ALWAYS when I am running in times of loss.Even though I felt somewhat more centered post-run, I KNEW there was along way to go till letting go was complete. It made getting through the funeral service and reception somewhat easier – not perfect BUT easier! Thus, this morning became a ‘must run’ enterprise – again with a 7:35 a.m. start – to further my process of acceptance. Only this started in a major snowstorm with intense north-west winds and a temperature of a much ‘balmier’ -15 Celsius. I ran the same route but in the reverse direction – only this time, I was TOTALLY alone. No cars, no other runners – not even a dog-walker! I also went into my oh so familiar somewhat transcendental state that I can put myself into during runs like this. The sense of clarity, of being in the moment and of internal mental calmness carry me into greater acceptance of God’s will. This is the circle of life…and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it! I finished the run going backwards up the final hill – the snow flying all around me, the wind whipping at my back and my loved one giving me permission to let go! I must admit, the sensation is beyond the best! If you read this, thank you for allowing me to share the journey to acceptance and peace – without the need for drugs, counseling nor support groups. Give me the outdoors and the ability to RUN there and all will ultimately be FINE!!
A lighter topic next week…!!!