September 8, 2015

How to Save Your Own Life. {Poem}

girl art drawing

“The trick is not how much pain you feel—but how much joy you feel. Any idiot can feel pain. Life is full of excuses to feel pain, excuses not to live, excuses, excuses, excuses.” ~ Erica Jong

A friend once told me
half the people in our running group were going through divorce,
confronting change and loss.
Another third were working through broken bodies and sickness,
confronting their mortality.
The rest were just regular crazy.
I think I’m a bit of each.

In running, I become a student of me and my limits.
In running, I become a student of the universe and its limitlessness.
In running, I learn the distinction between the two
is everything and nothing.

Running doesn’t give joy.
It allows the space to give joy to yourself.
Running won’t save you.
It allows the space to save yourself.

So, to save your own life:
Go for a long run.

Run beyond the thunderstorm.
Run beyond your tears.
Outlast your phone battery.
Outlast fear of being alone in the woods.

Run along the river, run in the woods.
Run with crickets and egrets and dark green.
Run until you are so tired you can at last be still,
and listen to what the river has to tell you about living a life.

Rush and bubble and gush, joy in full force,
become a tributary and flow into the river.
Flow around the obstacles.
Let the wind move you.
Let the sun warm you, make you glitter and shine.

Converge with other tributaries, flow and surge.
When spread too thin in the shallows, slow down.

Pool and puddle and pause,
become a source for deep-rooted trees and lush stories,
and for people and places that don’t know they need you.
Then reflect back that beauty for others to enjoy.

Run along,
and when you are tired from running then flow.
Unseen forces are moving you,
even when you seem to be still.

Bear witness to joy, to stillness, bear witness to yourself.
Go for a long run, and save your own life.


Relephant Read:

Sometimes We Struggle: 5 Steps I took to Save My Life.


Author: Carolyn Shannon

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Sara/Flickr


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