I didn’t run-walk my ten miles today. Or yesterday. I meant to go today but stayed up late last night for various reasons.
I seem to be following paths that I never thought I needed to follow or needed to explore. I started blogging simply because I needed to start up a writer’s platform that would enable me to start moving towards the publishing industry.
But the most I write, the more I start navigating roads that were dusty or covered in years of fallen leaves. And as I shuffle my feet onto each new path, I start to explore and see more of the person I am, the person I have become, the person I want to or wanted to be.
When I was about to turn 40, people kept on saying that I was just turning 29. Others talked about fine wine and how it has to age. When did aging become such a horrible thing? Something worth denying? I know I wrote a little about this earlier but it still mystifies me that I would hide my age. I am proud of being 43. I am proud of the fact that I am in my 40th decade of life. I am proud that I am here and living and following the passions of my life.
I knew that my 40s was going to be a time of reckoning. I knew that as I walked away from my 30’s and started to finally feel like an adult as opposed to a child wearing big shoes that I was entering a decade in which I was going to change. This might sound cliche’. It certainly isn’t intended to. But this is the reality. My 20’s was about learning to live with myself and then with Pat. My 30’s was about learning to be a parent and a teacher even though I had been teaching for over a decade at that point. But my 40’s? My 40’s was about shedding the detritus that has clung to me for so many years.
Maybe because I was hoarding everything.
Maybe because I didn’t know the weight of all those burdens that I carried like a suit of armor, like a penance, like a collection of rosary beads that was constantly growing so I could add more to my prayers for salvation. And it wasn’t even from sins. It was from constant questioning. Constant remembering of all the mistakes I have made.
I say this a lot. Or other versions of it.
“Please don’t be mad at me.”
“I didn’t mean to do it.”
Sometimes, I utter “I’m sorry” because I feel sympathy and/or empathy for the person who is experiencing a grievous situation. I will do this on Facebook when a friend alludes to a sad or frustrating situation. I will write “I’m sorry” not because I am claiming complicity or blame but because my friend is upset.
Too often, though, I am saying “I’m sorry” or any of my million versions of “I’m sorry” for actions that I haven’t committed or for actions that were no nearly as egregious as I thought they were.
You knocked over your coffee cup? I’m sorry that I caused you to do this.
You don’t like this class? I’m sorry. Let me work harder to improve what is happening.
God, in reading those lines, I am reading “wah wah wah me.” I’m not whining. I’m giving hyperbolic examples of a behavior that I find incredibly annoying and frustrating. Maybe I should apologize to myself. Make penance for all the penance that I don like layers of clothing on a cold day.
In the miles that I run and walk, I listen to music, mentally write poetry or my novel, brainstorm another novel or two, and think. And think. And think.
I think about what I want to accomplish. I think about what I have done which makes me happy or proud. I push myself to keep going when my knees ache and my hips feel like they are spinning flails about to fall off their axis.
I reconcile myself to myself. It’s like I am meeting my past self and present self and we are having a reconciliation that is being mediated by someone completely different. Future self? Please. I sound like A Christmas Carol.
I want to stop apologizing. Not completely. I believe in taking responsibility for my actions. I believe apologizing when I have done wrong or caused harm. But I need to stop obsessing over the fact that one apology is insufficient to show my contrition. I need to stop apologizing at least three or four times for one mistake. My emotional algebra is skewed and I’m going to start fixing it.
Yesterday, I got a tattoo. I have wanted one for years and I kept on waffling about what I was going to get and where I was going to put it. I waffled about color, size, type. Everything.
Yesterday, I had a semi-colon put on my right shoulder, on the triangle of my shoulder blade. And it hurt and I hated the pain. But I breathed through the pain and recited the states in alphabetical order and counted though the pain.
I hate pain. I am terrified of pain. Ask my dentist.
But I got a semi-colon on my right shoulder because I am an English teacher. Because I am a writer. Because I read about the semi-colon project and I had this placed on me as a reminder to some of my most beloved friends that their stories are not over yet. I had the semi-colon placed on my right shoulder because I am not suicidal but because my story has not ended. Nor has my dream to write my stories…even the fiction ones.
I am standing not at an intersection. This is not a Robert Frost moment where I am looking at how “two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” Rather, at this point, my life’s path is nothing more than a collection of roads which are side-by-side or stacked on top of one another. And I trod upon all of them, hopping from moment to moment, a veritable hopscotch game.
I will run forward, run backwards. I will dance on these paths. I will sing the joy of my stories. I will….