Thursday, June 19, 2014

Frozen Digits - from my upcoming book

I made a commitment to post on this blog, or the other one, every day this week. This doesn’t include Sunday.  I take Sundays off.  Today I thought I might share something from the book I am currently writing. (Okay, I’m working on more than one, but this one takes priority.) Although the book is about lessons learned through running, it is not a book just for runners. The running stories are simply a tool to teach a lesson.   Read on and you will see what I mean …

Frozen Digits Lesson

I do my best to run all year long. When the weather turns cold, however, it is often tempting to remain indoors, aborting the morning run for a warmer, more sedentary activity such as sleep. I do love my sleep!  I have learned, however, that I am happier and healthier if I continue to go outside and move year-round.  This is true even when we are suffering a weather inversion that makes the atmosphere dark, cold, and gloomy for weeks on end.

Frost accumulation from inversion air. Check out the eyelashes!
During the winter I don more layers and step out into the brisk winter air.  As I brave the elements and go for a cold weather run, the first mile or two can be rather uncomfortable especially for my fingers and toes.  Experience has taught me that eventually, my frozen digits will respond to the increased blood pumping through my veins and they will warm. During these runs I often find myself removing my cheap knitted gloves because the discomfort of the cold air is no longer a factor. In fact, running has warmed me to the point that I remove the gloves to help cool down.  It is true that if I run in the cold long enough, I become comfortable. I have a cold threshold.  I draw the line when the temperature drops below 10◦! I have not found a lesson in running in weather that cold.  Some runners may.  I don’t intend to find out.

What did I learn from the Frozen Digits Lesson?

Some pain is meant to be endured.  What appears as uncomfortable in the beginning, often transitions into a comfort level once we have put up with it long enough. 

For instance, one can be tempted to avoid a growing experience because he is hesitant to endure the discomforts the experience is sure to present.  Consider the discomfort level of a job change, especially one that involves relocation.  This can be daunting to anyone, especially those with families.  When our children were in high school and middle school, we were presented with an opportunity to relocate for a new job.  We investigated the opportunity and determined that it wasn’t the right fit for us. While we were gathering information to make our decision, our children were in mourning.  Their anticipation of the move was fraught with anxiety.  The decision to move was never made, yet they were convinced their lives were soon to be ruined.  Surely, had we made the change, there would have been a period of adjustment, discomfort, and growth.

Think for a minute of someone who has overcome addictive behavior. Before they begin, the discomfort of change can seem too much to bear.  Just as sleep is more inviting than a run on a cold winter morning, familiarity is more comfortable than the sacrifice required for change.  Before he begins, the smoker might believe he cannot exist without his nicotine.  With each cigarette that is not lit, his body becomes stronger and healthier and he gains mental strength as his confidence increases.  Might he stumble?  Of course, but the longer he endures, the better his hope of success.

When my father passed away, I did not sleep for a week - not well, at least.  This may seem silly to those that struggle with sleep regularly, but I am a good sleeper! I was concerned and saddened by the event, as most would be.  I discovered, however, that as time went by the pain became weaker and the memories grew sweeter.  As I passed a haystack one day, I was reminded that my dad had been an expert hay stacker in his day.  I, on the other hand, had only recently learned that there were patterns to haystacks and my father had a talent for building them.  I smiled as I remembered this and a single tear escaped my eye.  Over the years, the smiles have become more frequent and they are seldom accompanied by tears. 

Does time truly heal all wounds?  I don’t believe every wound is healed by time, but most are healed or softened to some degree.  Others are more easily endured as we continue to bear them.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said, and many have quoted him, “That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.” 

Cold weather running has taught me to be patient during times of difficulty.  Either the trial will pass or I will gain strength to overcome it. Unfortunately, unlike running, it is difficult to measure how long patience must be exercised during life’s difficulties.  When I run in the cold, I can expect that by the time I have completed the first mile, my digits will no longer feel frozen. Life experiences are not quite so predictable, but if you keep running or enduring, sometime the pain may become bearable.

Do you have something in your life that might require a little more patience - a little more enduring before the blessings are realized? Can you resolve to “just keep running?”
Happy Reading!

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