When the weather gets tough, the tough question their choice of residence. I thought of this while watching the mercury slide to 30-degrees below average for this time of year.

What’s up with this cold? Why do I live here? I give up. (Insert pathetic howl here.)

Succumbing is an easy choice. Fold like a church-basement chair when discomfort pays a call.

“Play it safe,” my inner angst croons. “Be warm. Grow fat. Relax. Effort is bad. Ease is good.”

Poor, poor, pitiful me.

Eventually I snapped to, delivering a mental slap to my own frozen head. Each moment spent succumbing is one stolen from achieving things both big and small — from driving forward in this gig called life.

It’s a running mile lost. It’s a column left unwritten. It’s a job or task left unfinished. It’s a missed opportunity. It’s the slow, pendulous swing toward demanding less of oneself.

That’s when darkness appears with a soul-binding lease.

We weren’t designed to succumb. We’re built to move forward and onward, even if it means rattling through back roads and ditches along the way.

Moving forward is moving well, regardless of speed.

I wrote this while thinking about ditching a 10K race for which I’d registered many months ago. It was scheduled for the first Saturday in March at Mahoney State Park by Ashland. The forecast was dire, with single-digit temps, face-peeling wind, and a course tormented by ice and snow.

I’ve run this race in years past, and it’s usually a blast of energy and a celebration of spring. Runners clad in leprechaun green whoop and holler through a hilly, twisting course, past cowbell ringers, bagpipe players, and cheering spectators waving signs of encouragement.

Mother Nature must have grown tired of such foolishness.

“Grow up, kids,” she seemed to say. “Life is bigger than green tutus and goofy hats.”

She planned a race day worthy of grinding cringe into countenance, and slapping solemn onto otherwise grinning faces.

“Are you mush, or are you men?” Sometimes Mom Nature is just, plain mean.

There were lots moments when I was mush — a bowl of oatmeal in winter-tight jeans.

My biggest goal was to be locked in a bagel shop with a case of cream cheese. I briefly pondered donating my running gear to charity, and slamming this chapter shut like a moldy old book.

Life is too short for self-inflicted discomfort. You win, winter. Hello, darkness.

Humans tend to commune too quickly with darkness — at least this one does. We escape real and imagined angst and hardship through substance abuse, avoidance and procrastination, self-defeating behavior and clouded perspectives.

I am the queen of avoidance and procrastination.

We forget we are capable of joy and light, creativity and perseverance, accomplishment and love. Darkness rolls in on occasion, hoping to cloud our vision.

I decided to run that windy, freezing race. You will not beat me, Mother Nature.

I imagined myself leaping over ice and barreling through the cold, cutting wind. I’d don a warrior’s grimace beneath frozen eyeballs and a frostbitten forehead.

I might be the last one to finish, but I will still be victorious. Let’s do this thing.

Then the race was canceled due to ice and cold and wind, and my moxie deflated like a birthday balloon.

I ran anyway that frigid Saturday morning, through the streets of Hastings with my unconquerable running group. The course lacked bagpipes and cowbells, encouraging signs and happy hollering from green-clad runners. Finishing felt like victory, just the same.

Everyone needs to defeat the darkness. Achievements need to be noticeable and deliberate to keep us moving forward. Effort is required. They must be earned.

Whatever you are facing, stay positive and just keep moving, my friends!

ONWARD!

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