Each morning for the past three weeks when I wake up, I sit up in bed and adjust the brace on my leg. I put my legs over the side of the bed, reach for my crutches, and try and ground myself so I'm not too wobbly when I stand up. I put my hair back, go to the bathroom, and then crutch myself out to kitchen for coffee. I pour my coffee and then set it on the stove, move myself with my crutches, and then move my cup to the counter. Then I move myself with my crutches and move my coffee cup to the sideboard. Move me, move my cup; move me, move my cup; move me, move my cup--until I'm seated in the living room. Then I turn my Christmas music on low, sip my coffee, close my eyes, and imagine myself running.
I run my favorite 24 hour race with an epic 100 mile finish in the 24th hour on the short loop. I run an 8 minute mile on a track with meticulous pacing. I run an even faster mile on the road with my coach pacing me. I run a hundred plus mile ultra, point to point. I see my crew, I see the check-in points, I see me running by myself and running with a pacer--I cross the finish line. I run courses I've run in the past and I redeem myself, whatever that means. I get 5K PR's and I run at a pro style camp and I'm healthy and strong. And I run on lots of trails. But mostly I just run out the door on my usual routes. I'm happy and excited to run. I run off steam, I run off excited energy, I run because it's raining, I run because I can run.
And then I open my eyes and start my day and I'm back to the reality of urging my knee to straighten and bend. I put heat on it to coax it to go a little further, and I put a muscle stimulator on it to "confuse" my brain so I can bend it just one more degree.
I live in two worlds right now--one where I can't put any weight on my leg and one where I'm running past my limits. I do this with writing, too. I imagine things happening with my writing, things too hopeful to say outloud. And then I go write. I write these posts and I work on my novel with so much trepidation and disbelief. I struggle with the memoir even though it's pushing from inside of me to get out, and I have two other books waiting in the wings, not quietly or patiently I might add. I live in two worlds there, too.
Is it foolish to imagine great things? Maybe it's foolish to bank on them, but I happen to believe there is no hope for it at all if you don't dream it first. The trick is keeping the faith and enjoying the process while you are in the reality of the work, which is where you will spend all of your precious time.
Of course we all have limits, and lots of things (like where my writing will go) is beyond our control. But I believe we put limits on ourselves that may not exist before we even throw our hats in the ring to give it a try. And I also believe we underestimate the deep satisfaction and the gifts to be gained in the process itself, no matter what the outcome.
When all is said and done, I like expecting great things of myself. I like the feeling of believing in myself and believing enough in the mystery of life to think that if it all just comes together at the right moment I might just get that thing I'm after. But mostly I like that this process generates gratitude, which I was not expecting. For whatever reason, my morning visions end in a big, sappy gratitude fest. I feel grateful that I run, even when it's been hard. I feel grateful to have this relationship with running, even though I mostly don't understand it! I'm grateful that I'm willing to risk dreaming big--it makes my life exciting. I'm grateful I could have this surgery and that I was able to navigate the time off. I'm grateful I had an amazing surgeon and that, for some reason, I'm getting pro athlete level physical therapy. I'm grateful for my coach, who really saw me and was the first person who expected great things from me, opening the door for me to want that for myself. To expect that for myself.
Sitting quietly for a few minutes every morning and imagining myself running is surprisingly challenging and doesn't come easily, but I'll still get up and do it all over again tomorrow. I'll get out bed and balance on one leg. I'll hobble to the kitchen for coffee. I'll move my cup along the surfaces until it ends up in the living room. I'll turn on the music, sit in my chair, sip my coffee, and start my day with what is within my control--I will start my day expecting great things from myself.