In the early hours of the morning, not able to sleep, as usual, I was online, catching up on some reading of other’s blog posts.
Anything to do with running always catches my attention because it is close to my heart, embedded deeply into the motherboard of my being, somehow.
I wasn’t a great runner. Really.
But, for some inexplicable reason, I was captivated by its power, particularly its control over my psyche. Running had the authority to relocate my mind, mysteriously separating it from gruelling physical pain in my body, transporting me through extreme emotions, forcing my moodiness into submission and gently placing me in another more comfortable, happy-place.
Never have I allowed anything else or any other human being such dominance over me. So, running, very quickly, became my drug of choice.
I always came back from a run feeling calm and relaxed with a deep sense of peacefulness in my spirit no matter how sore my muscles and aching joints were.
To say that I miss running would be an understatement. There are days that I wish I could just put on my running shoes and run, and run, and run.
The last time I ran, was on a beautiful, unspoiled stretch of beach on the Eastern Cape coast, South Africa.
Then, I got into the car with my husband and ten-month-old baby to travel home after our first holiday together as a family – the happiest time of my life.
I made it home, eventually, paralysed from the neck down.
Since then, every fibre of my being has craved, wanted, wished and dreamed of running again.
But, no matter how much I pray, plead, beg, cry, scream or rage I am never going to be able to run, ever again.
In her blog post, Kristin writes:
“Running says all kinds of positive things about a person: that you’re serious about your health and fitness; that you’re disciplined, and able to push past the pain; that you’re someone to be reckoned with.”
There was a time in my life where I would have agreed with that 100%. In fact, I was living it. Arrogantly, I felt a little sorry for the non-runners, thinking that they were really missing out on truly living.
Kristin goes on to write:
“Not running, of course, seems to say the opposite: unhealthy, undisciplined, uninspired, unintimidating. I am the un of running. Yuck.”
Shamefully, when I was running, I would have nodded my head in agreement to that statement.
Thankfully, running did give me many skills, I still use today, to cope with the difficulties of being a quadriplegic. But, I’m grateful that my mind has now been opened because there is nothing more limiting than a closed mind.
Gladly, I can say that I am most certainly not the un of running.
By the grace of God, I am healthy. I’ve not even had the flu in the past five years.
I am disciplined – living this life trapped in my corporeal prison demands strict routine to enable small things to function optimally like, my bowel and bladder being emptied at specific times of the day, every day, for the rest of my life.
I am inspired to make the most of each day and each moment I have on this Earth. I know what it‘s like to face death, survive and realize what a privilege it is to have been gifted an extra 13 years with my son, family and friends.
I must be incredibly intimidating. I spent many hours alongside my running-buddies, pounding the pavements, covering thousands of kilometres whilst pouring our hearts out to one another and most of them were too afraid to even face me after my accident. But, I understand that mindset so, I forgive them. Most people have an innate fear of physical differences and disabilities because it evokes their own personal dread and insecurities. One just has to go out to the shops with me to see how scary I really am to other people. Some can barely look at me whilst others will stare so that their mouths literally hang open. I can’t say I blame them because I often feel like an alien living in a world specifically designed for able-bodied people.
What I do know is that I am strong – maybe not physically but, more importantly, emotionally.
Society views disability a weakness yet, it demands the utmost of strength for those of us living this life. I do believe that I gained this valuable characteristic from running.
If I had a choice, I would choose to run, without a doubt. But, since I was stripped of that option, I decided to rebuild a new, meaningful life in a different body, learning many, sometimes very hard, life lessons along the way.
Mostly, I have made peace with my situation and always try to remind myself that I am… ENOUGH.
If you like running and you are still able to do so, then, go put on your running shoes, now, if you can. When you are really tired, thinking that you cannot go on anymore, take a few extra steps, just because you can.
If you don’t like running, go for a walk, jump on the bike, go to the gym or for a swim – whatever you can, just because you can.
If you, like me, are no longer able to walk or run, help me to encourage all those other able lazy buggers to use their arms and legs while they still can.
I still get enough exercise, pushing my luck!