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Finding Our Forever Pace

One

Until late yesterday afternoon, my wife and I were packing to begin our annual migration from the Southwest (winter) to the Northwest (summer). We were to leave in a couple of days, part of a yearly ritual that finds us saying goodbye to friends here in Tucson and returning to our “northern” friends for the next several months.

As fate would have it, a sort of mini-tornado struck our house in the early evening and ripped off a chunk of our carport. The only house on the whole block to get hit, of course… 

So here we are, plans on hold, scrambling to contact insurance agents and a contractor. In the middle of all this, a friend stopped by to offer help. I invited him in, and we had a good chat about looking after things when we head out.

When he left, my wife began cleaning the couch where the man had sat. Until that moment I had completely forgotten that we no longer have people over, that we keep our distance, that we don’t shake hands (as I had done). The habit of hospitality and the instinct for preservation had clashed, and common sense had lost.

 I can remember what it’s like to have people over, and I miss it. I want this era to end. Apparently it can, as it forgetfully did today, but I want to finish mindfully, remembering the necessary steps to renewal.

Two

Running isn’t my thing. Never has been, and I’m too old to become “a runner,” at least by my definition. And yet early yesterday morning, well before the Great Blow that took our carport, I completed a 3.1-mile run without stopping—a plodding, breathless slog that threaded a wide path between the weedy lots that surround our housing complex. It wasn’t a whim; nine weeks ago I had started the “Couch to 5k” program (It’s exactly what it sounds like), and I intended to finish it.

 My early walk/runs leading up to this one began with my Negotiator as company: “Run to that cactus down the block and thenyou can walk.” Then, later, the Drill Sergeant: “Shut up and keep going, dammit!” More recently, the Coach: “Find your forever pace and keep it there.” Yesterday’s run was full of company, with all three characters bargaining, cajoling and encouraging me along the route. And then, when I was nearly done and quite certain this running wasn’t a good idea, a new voice joined the others. It simply said “Now finish strong.” It was quiet and powerful enough to drown the cacophony. Those words got me across my imaginary race line. Don’t let any voices of discouragement, inadequacy or weariness distract from your forever pace—finish strong.

And we’re still here. Plus side: 5k run completed and (so far) reasonable health. Minus side: ripped carport, upended schedule and no easy end in sight. Tonight I find myself listening again to all three voices in our marathon of social isolation: Keep going. Find your pace. Finish strong. And keep packing, because one day your house will be graced with friends, and you will again travel the open road in front of you.

  • What might life be asking you to finish during this time?
  • What’s your “forever pace”—your rhythm—now, and how do you keep going?

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