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Walking Mad

"There are worse things than being mad." Jack Kerouac

"What do you do with the mad that you feel?"  is a line from a Mister Roger's song. I loved that he sang that song to little kids. I loved that he sang that song to me. Because, what the f**k do you do with the mad that you feel?  I go right into my head:  Is it okay that I feel this way?  Am I right about this? Am I totally wrong about this?  Is there some truth in it? Is it righteous anger? Justified anger? Totally out-in-left-field anger? Sometimes I blow up. Sometimes I shut down. And often I go so deep inside of myself that no one can find me, including me. Am I always "right" when I'm mad? Of course not. Am I sometimes justified when I'm mad? Absolutely. Do I often (almost always) get mad at myself for getting mad? Yes, I do. I don't like that part.  I'm certain there were all kinds of factors that conditioned me for that, but I don't really care at this point. I just want to be a fair person. I want to be a good person. Mostly I want to be a healthy person who doesn't get mad at herself for getting mad.

As it turns out, walking 1,000 miles in 92 days means spending an inordinate amount of time with yourself, which is a ridiculous and funny thing to say, because, duh, we are always with ourselves. However, we are very often distracted from ourselves: making dinner, talking to friends, talking to family, talking to co-workers, neighbors, the dog...reading emails, scrolling Instagram, doing laundry, working, planning, watching Netflix, Hulu, Ted Lasso, etc...but not when you're walking. And after about 500 miles, I had burned through podcasts and burned out on my music. I had the occasional walks with other people, which helped. But mostly at the end of the first 500 miles I just found me, standing there, ready to go for another walk, ready for the next five.hundred.miles. I chose to do this, as I was reminded.  And I did set out to see if I could outwalk/outrun my overactive mind, or that destructive voice in my head, or Resistance, as Steven Pressfield calls it--so that running could just be running again. So that maybe I could learn to not be so hard on myself. So, off we went--me & me on mile 501. 

It's been step after step, mile after mile, and day after day of me.  And as the miles have worn on I'm getting more tired, and more broken, and more open. At first the focus was on the physical aches and pains:  the blister on this one toe--there, then gone, then there, then gone.  And then a blister on different toe. My entire right leg chain aches--it hurts to walk, it hurts to drive, then one day it doesn't hurt at all?? That's great, but today it's 99 degrees and 79% humidity. Next day: oh, thank god, the heat broke but oh my god I can hardly walk on my foot. And my leg is on fire--I rarely get a relief from that, but randomly I do. Then one beautiful Monday it's all lined up: no blisters, awesome foot, leg is muted, weather is perfect, and an unexpected health issue pops up. Amazingly, a realization emerged:  Just keep walking. All of these things: they float in, and they float out. If I didn't react, if I just noticed them and kept walking, they would settle down or settle in or fade into the background. As I learned to do this two things happened:  I began running a little easier, with a lot more power and a lot less angst. And, deeper feelings emerged; bigger questions surfaced: What is success to me? What do I want going forward? Am I really BRAVE enough to go after it? How do I live with some of my big regrets? What does it mean to have a crew?  Why is this fitness life so important to me?  Why do I need to be seen? Why do I feel like I'm not? What is love in this era of my life? Do I have good intuition? What's next? Why is this world so messed up? How is this world also so cool?  

And today...why am I so mad?  I can't walk away from it, so I have to walk towards it, and into it, and then out the other side. Yes I'm tired and on my feet all the time. and that is going to open things up and leave me feeling a little raw. But it's not just that. It's that I've gone deeper than all the noise and past all those nagging physical sensations. It's like cleaning out the clutter and getting a look at what's been sitting underneath it all. And it turns out there is some mad underneath it all.