The Heart is the Little Engine that Can (originally published 10/20/15)

I’ve probably only run twice in the last year, maybe even months.  I went through periods earlier in my life where I ran with more regularity.  When I was in my early to mid 20s, I ran toward some unknown solution, an indeterminate destination, the person I thought I was supposed to be but couldn’t see very clearly.  In my late 20s and early 30s I ran to get away – from responsibility, from pain, from promises I didn’t know how to keep.  But I never felt like a runner. “I run,” I would say if it came up in conversation, “but I’m not a runner.”

This morning when plans with a friend fell through, I ran. I ran to feel the blissful fall breeze, the bright sun and the pounding of my heart in my chest. I only timed myself to determine the approximate length of the loop at the park, but at the end of the second lap I realized that I had moved a little more freely and run a little bit faster than the first go round.  I smiled and the sky looked closer and bluer. I suppose that confidence put a little spring in my step, and by the third lap I had clearly found my strength.

In the end, the numbers don’t have meaning to me, but the message in the experience is clear and lasting.  Start.  Just begin.  Set out from where you are now and don’t doubt just because it’s slow going or you wobble a bit at the outset.  Remember how that whole riding a bike thing started?  You have to commit and be willing to fumble through it until it all comes together.  The mind is always going to fear the fall, and rational thinking is not without benefit.  But we can start to see when our head keep us from following our heart.  I believe in life, and certainly on the yoga mat, that two things hold us back, keep us stuck: the stuff we don’t know that we somehow think we should, and the stuff we are convinced that we know and to which we are holding tight.  How is who I think I am or am not keeping me from really living the most full and dynamic life possible?

I am a runner. I am whatever I choose to be. Everything we could possibly become isn’t down the road, it’s carried within us, undiscovered or perhaps forgotten. When we choose to begin, with courage and a healthy dose of curiosity, we bring into being magic that we couldn’t possibly conjure up in the mind space.  Just think you can, turn the pedals and breathe.  At some point everything will catch up with your heart, but let it lead.  Believe.