Killing the Inner-Pack-Rat: Step 5

In Which We Admitted to God, to Ourselves, and to Another Human Being the Exact Nature of Our Wrongs

Ha. Ha ha ha. Seriously? Y'all got about a year? You might want to sit yourself right down for this. Actually, I am pretty sure that my last few Pack-Rat posts cover this one. (Thank God!) It' a good thing too because I'm about 36 hours out from Marathon Monday and there's only one thing I can think about right now: "What am I going to eat next?" 

No, I am just kidding (kind of). The real question is: Why the heck am I doing this again?

Seriously. Before we left for Boston, I spent 30 days clearing out our house. I doubled up on days so that in 30 days I finished 40 days worth of purging 21 items a day, if that makes sense. And I am not done. Actually, I don't think one should ever be done clearing out the excess. The truth is, most of us here in the U.S. have excess. Most of us can readily admit to that. And in order to prevent it from taking over our space, our time, our energy, our very lives, we have to be vigilant. We have to constantly scrutinize every thing we bring into our home. We have to ask ourselves what actually adds value and get rid of the rest. (Anyone want a fish?) And along those lines, we have to be honest about the things we do too and decide if those things add value or if it is just more.

Kurt and I went to the Boston Marathon convention yesterday and about mid way through there was a poster hanging on the wall which asked: Why do you run?

I laughed and said, "Shoot! That's a good question! Why the heck DO I run?"

And after thinking about it I could only come up with this: because that is what I do. I run. And unlike many of the other runners I see out there, ear buds securely in place as they cruise along to their tunes, I run in silence. You see, while I do enjoy a good race, running is not just an exercise or sport for me. I run to process life. Have a worry or concern? Go out on a run. Have questions to mull over? Go run. Been in an argument? Frazzled with kids, spouse, people, life? Not sure what's even bothering you? Run. Ate too many french fries, again? Run.

Running clears my mind. It offers me a safe place to think fresh thoughts, feel new feelings, notice subtleties of life I may have overlooked. Running dares me to push myself, to be vulnerable, to be brave, to seek out my limits, to try harder, to move beyond. Running gently nudges me to pay attention. To let things go. To allow my thoughts and opinions to drift away so that there is room for filling up again. And often, it reminds me to slow down. To watch for others along the path and extend a simple hello.

But running does not offer all the answers. Running only offers a safe place to process, a place to be fully free: free to roam through the tougher questions and free to cohabitate with the unknown. And when I am done, I am rejuvenated. I may not have everything figured out or every problem solved but I do have a great sense of peace and purpose and a fresh spirit to take with me on the journey.

It's a little like church actually. Only, without the hot coffee. And boy do I love that coffee. (So much so that I actually tried drinking it on a run a few weeks back....as it turns out, coffee is much better when sitting!)

So, while I think I am a crazy lunatic for partaking in this marathoning business, and this is never as apparent as when I am at the end of my taper and feeling like I need to check myself into some mental facility where I believe they should also run a complete heart, lung and brain workup to make sure everything is working correctly because good golly I am quite sure it is not (please, someone take away the caffeine!), running (usually) adds value. Granted, I could tweak some of my mileage so that it makes more sense in my already busy life and I would do well to cut out the marathons COMPLETELY but running, in and of itself, is good for both me and my family because it keeps me healthy and makes me better able to do my job. You know, the really important one that requires me to raise five kids. 

And isn't that what this is all about? Becoming the best 'us' so that we can do our jobs to the best of our ability? If admitting to you that I have made idols of my stuff and held onto things well past their value-expiration date and then doing something about it doesn't help free me to be the best me, then why bother? 

I am not sure what the value is in running a marathon. I can only hope that God can use even the marathon for good so that all of this craziness is not in vain. See you at the finish line!

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