“God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open.” Hazrat Inayat Khan as quoted in The Book Of Awakening by Mark Nepo.
I’ve been battling the urge to write a post since George Michael’s death on Christmas Day. Carless Whisper is my all time favorite song ever, the song that I have listened to exponentially more times than any other song, and it was already on my playlist on my iPod before his death (yes, I still use an iPod that is almost 10 years old when I run and not my phone.) Usually it gets randomly shuffled to periodically on my run, but on December 26th, I purposely scrolled and listened to it several times while running. I came home with an urge to sit down and write but didn’t have time to, and then intermittently as the desire to write rose to the surface again through the week, I kept asking myself, “What are you going to sit down and write? The same old stuff? Running is your therapy and blah, blah, blah….”…. and so every time the urge surfaced, I stifled it …. I didn’t sit down to write until several different little “events” over the last week convinced me that yes, I should listen to the repeated whisper in the back of my mind and write the blah, blah, blah….
So please excuse me if you follow me on other forms of social media and know about my Careless Whisper cassette tape, but here it goes again. I used to have a 90 minute cassette tape (45 minutes each side) in which I had taped Carless Whisper back to back. On long road trips, I’d put the tape in my Walkman and listen to it curled up in the backseat for hours, counting the length of the road trip by the number of 45 minute flips of the cassette tape involved. For part of the time, I would just zone out. Most of the time, I’d imagine all types of scenarios that this song may have been about and the horrible betrayal that had led to writing it. Sometimes I was the girl George was singing to, and sometimes I was the other girl (and now I know that the lyrics may well have been written for a man, but that doesn’t really matter….because love is love and the language of love and heartbreak is universal). Back then, I’d agree with George that “Time can never mend” certain wounds. Since George’s death, in going back and listening to the lyrics again, I realized that time does actually heal most wounds… that “guilty” feet can forgive themselves and dance again…. I hope that George realized this well before his death as well. I’m grateful I never have to go back to my teens when feelings are so exaggerated. I also became aware that listening to that song over and over was probably the first time I ever did something repetitively…. meditatively….. the first clue to one day finding solace in the meditative repetition of putting one foot in front of the other for mile after mile…..
I’ve been in a little bit of an emotional funk lately….behind the bubbly girl out there having fun, my heart has been a little heavy…. not ending 2016 on the high that I would have liked to. If I really think back, 2016 was actually a pretty fucking amazing year for me… just in running and writing alone, I accomplished a lot. 2016 was pretty fucking amazing until election night. Trump winning was a huge blow for me; I’m not going to go in detail about the why here. Two days after election day, my yogi therapist friend Jake told me that he was leaving LA for 6 months….I started crying, or rather should say resumed the crying that I had been doing for the preceding 48 hours. A few days after that I found out that one of my dearest friends is moving from LA permanently…. This reminded me of a couple other very important people in my life that have left LA permanently since I moved here. In the setting of heartbreak about Trump, all this lead to the very unreasonable and exaggerated response of me crying to my husband that he is the only person in the world who doesn’t leave me.
I have moved a lot in my life…. from one country to another….from one state to many others. I have now been living in LA for ten years. That is the longest that I have consecutively lived in one city. The bonus is that I have friends all over the U. S., but the much greater negative is that especially as you get older, it is hard to make deep connections and friendships with people, and when you do make them, it is hard when now you are staying put but other people have to leave….
In this general down state that I’ve had since November, I’ve been even more grateful for running. I’ve realized that although I may now have found stability in one location, the people and the situations around me will continue to change….When I run, I feel stable…. I feel like the only thing I need is myself and my relationship with my run to ground me…. As I repetitively put one foot in front of the other, I have no other care in the world but that run…. I can tell you that if I didn’t have my run, I would be in a downward spiral right now; but I’m not.
On December 22nd, I read the quote “God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open” in Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening. I don’t know about the whole God vs. the universe breaking the heart part of it (a whole other conversation), but the idea of being heartbroken over and over until you just stay open really resonated with me. There is one part of me that feels that because of my new-found relationship with myself through running, I am unbreakable…. I know that I will have ups and downs in my mood, and currently I may be a little bit down, but I am not broken….I am not breakable… As long as I make the time to run, I will not spiral… I am open.
Other than running, I have been pretty grateful for my husband who is “the only person in the world” who doesn’t leave me, and my kids. The bright shinning light in the last couple of weeks has been my kids. My 13 year-old boy has decided to run his first half-marathon, and we have done some runs together. He is the one I wrote about in the post Emotion Panel, …. I hope that running does for him what it does for me. My older son who I referred to in the post Boy writes his own songs and makes his own music. Some of his inspired writing is so insightful and advanced for his age. And over the last couple of weeks, I’ve realized more and more that my 10 year-old daughter already has a talent for writing as well. She has filled notebooks with songs that she has written, and her lyrics are actually really good. The other night while she was reading some of her lyrics to me, I had the thought that wow, these kids are really talented. I should stop writing. I should just take more satisfaction in seeing them do it. They are the writers of the future, and I should stick to the other things I do… and not a minute later, while I was looking at my daughter at a crowded noisy restaurant after she had just read some of her lyrics to me, I heard a very clear whisper in my ear that said, “Let them see you writing….let them see you writing….even if they never read it… even if no one ever reads it… let them see you write” … so here I am….
*****I don’t think I’ve ever formally recommended The Book Of Awakening by Mark Nepo on this blog. If you haven’t heard of it, I can’t recommend it enough. I start every day be reading the day’s quote / thought, and thank Jake for introducing me to it. For those of you who read my last post, I did get into the Chicago Marathon lottery, and have switched gears to being excited for it, although I’m still not looking forward to 20 milers in summer heat. I have an article in the Jan/Feb print edition of Women’s Running Magazine on newsstands now… pick up a copy if you have a chance. I also had an online post there you may enjoy called The One Huge Lesson I Learned From Running. Lastly, if by any chance you have an interest in following my actual running statistics, you can follow me on Strava. 2017….I’m ready….