Every first day of something is bound to be fraught. And wrought.
Under the morning moon, I drove empty streets toward a parking lot. At the far end, a clutch of reflectively clad people stood in a wobbly circle, their breath like so many clouds expelled into the dark before dawn. The night before, I had studied every angle of the parking lot and its sundry access points so that I would be sure to park in the correct place. I knew that parking my car efficiently, correctly and with precision would be key.
It was 5:30. I had been awake since 4, because I was afraid.
Afraid I would sleep through my alarm. Afraid the other kids wouldn’t like me. That I would park in the wrong spot or run the wrong route or say the wrong thing.
The summer before I started college, I was a seething mess of fruitless energy. I was at once excited and terrified. (Can you relate? I know you can.) My conflicting emotions erupted in an ugly volcanic mess just before I was to be dropped off on my first day. I hollered at my mother:
I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHERE THE FORKS ARE!
I was terrified I would not be able to navigate the dining hall. I wanted, in my distress, to know where the forks were. I felt that if I had a proper understanding of the inner workings of the dining hall and all its mysterious ways, I would have the world in my grasp. It all boiled down to one thing: the location of the forks.
Obviously, I wasn’t really worried about the utensil situation at my school. I was worried about school, and my ability to transition. And such was my feeling this morning as I met for the first time with the Advanced Marathon Training group that I had willing and joyfully elected, of my own free will and volition, to join. I wasn’t worried about how and where to park. I was worried about getting my sorry rear out of bed at darkness hours, about making sure I would be home in time to pack lunches, about the diligence and discipline these people clearly would have and that I was most likely lacking.
And then. I went for a run. Just like I found the forks,( which were, by the way, clearly labeled and demarcated in a wonderfully efficient utensil cart. Oh, my delight!)
How many times are our fears so big and wild that we reduce them to the mundane? How often are our dreams so audacious that we can’t grasp anything but the grainy sands of detail? This is human coping. This is how we survive. We take the step. We find the forks. We go for the run. We do the thing, whatever that thing is.
I’ll be writing each week about advanced training, not necessarily from the running perspective; so many others do that far better. Join me?
This week, my novel SEVEN DAYS IN MAY is on kindle for .99. Read it, review it. Love it or hate it. Just get it for a buck.