My Daily Dose of Zen

This was supposed to be my running year.

I had this plan that I called my 50 by 50, where I set out 50 goals for myself leading up to my second 49th birthday. Among those goals were several of the running variety, including another half-marathon, getting PRs in a 5K and 10K, and maybe even placing in my age group in some favorite races.

It was not to be.

Sometime in late February or early March, I had a terrible pain in my left Achilles. After a trip to the orthopedist (where I have frequent flyer miles), I got a diagnosis of tendonosis and told “No running,” not until it healed, anyway. So I began PT. It was going pretty well until something bad happened — I began to feel better. Then I did something foolish (I know — again?). I slacked off on my exercises and had to start all over again. That’s where I am now. Daily stretching, no running. Four or five months down the road and not much to show for it.

All those plans dashed. I was like a little kid, mentally scuffing my big toe in the dirt, fists balled up in my pockets, having a pity party for myself. “Why doesn’t God just tell me to sit around an get fat,” I’d say to myself (and sometimes others — sorry for that, by the way).

So, I couldn’t run. But I could walk. So I decided to try to walk the main path at Sunderbruch park a couple miles from home as often as I could manage. A total gem of a park in the middle of the city (well, more toward the edge than the middle, but…).

As it turns out, that was a really good thing, the not running. It caused me to slow down, which is something I kept thinking I ought to do, needed to do, but never seemed able to do. Why is it so easy to think, “I should slow my life down,” but next to impossible to actually make that happen? Well, I guess this got handed to me. Sometimes the universe nudges you, and sometimes it uses a two-by-four.

This morning, I had my daily dose of Zen on the path at Sunderbruch. I didn’t stop to smell the roses because, frankly, there aren’t any. But there are purple coneflowers, grey-headed coneflowers, compass plants, western ironweed, mondarda, milkweed and endless varieties of sedges. And that’s just the short list.

Birds? What kind do you want? I’ve got finches, wrens, blackbirds, robins, cardinals and even bluebirds. I never saw bluebirds as a kid, but now I can tell you where to find them along the path nearly every day. I love bluebirds because they are such a shocking shad of blue that they hardly look real. This morning I walked past a goldfinch sitting atop a bloom on a compass plant. The bird was nearly bigger than the flower, yet the flower never wavered. Then I remembered to think about how, despite their size relative to the bloom, birds, with all those feathers and hollow, delicate bird bones, weigh next to nothing.

And the noise! Every walk is a slight variation on a theme. Those tiny bird bodies can really belt out some serious song. Highs, lows, trills, warbles. Divas one and all singing glorious arias on a continuous loop. Every day I hear them and think to myself that I need to listen to my bird calls CD and learn to identify who sings what. Just because.

So, as I walk along and take in the sounds and sights, I also think about what to do to make my life a more improved work in progress. And it helps. But sometimes I need reminders and wish I had paper and pencil with me to take notes. But that probably means I am putting too much on the plate. Remember old Henry’s advice: “Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.”

At the end of my 40 minute walk, today, it hits me that I would like more time to think. And I also realize that one of the things I need more time for is to write. So here I am at my manual typewriter (now transposed onto my blog) trying to jot down some of these musings to muse upon a little further.

And I realize that maybe running was not what the Universe had intended for me for this year, no matter what I may have intended for myself.

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