Happy Fourth of July!
Last week I was running one morning on LBI. I get to spend the entire summer here, and I love every stinking minute of it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s cloudy and overcast, rainy and windy, or sunny and perfect, I love this place unconditionally. This particular run was an uneventful run, as in bland, nothing amazing, nothing awful. This is what I’ve come to realize is normal, and normal can be a great thing. Normal means that I’m not injured, not sore, not agitated and not suffering. Normal equals good. At the age of 47, I’ve come to really appreciate normal. Poor normal gets overlooked, in my opinion.
Towards the end of my completely normal run, I picked my head up to distract myself with some people watching. I happened to see a middle-aged (don’t you hate when people use that term? what does it mean, exactly?) husband and wife getting ready to go for a bike ride. It was a nice day, and they seemed to be nice enough people. I was pretty happy with myself, because I get like that when I run. So the husband happens to be wearing a Virginia Tech t-shirt. Virginia Tech’s mascot are called Hokies. What is a Hokie, you ask? Well, it just so happens that my son Connor is! He has just finished his sophomore year there, as a Forestry major. On campus, that’s exactly what they say when you ask, too. Question: “What’s a Hokie?” Answer: “I am.” Yea, it doesn’t make much sense, but that’s what they’re called.
Since I’m at the end of my run, the endorphins are kicking into high gear. I take one look at his shirt, break out into a huge smile, and I cannot help but say “Hey there, I have a Hokie too!!!” Now who knows whether the guy borrowed this shirt, bought it second-hand, or just had no idea what he was wearing that day. Do you know what he said to me? He said, “Good for you.” As in, the famous Christian Bale on-set rant. You can see it here. This is one angry guy.
As a side note, it’s hard to say “Good for you” without imparting the slightest undertone of sarcasm. Go ahead, try it now. See? I told you.
When I tell you I was completely flabbergasted by this man’s unfriendly response to my friendly greeting, I’d be downplaying it. Since this guy has zero power over my endorphins, and I usually retaliate with humor to an uncomfortable situation, I pretend I’m running with a friend. So I look over to my imaginary friend and say, “Wow, what a d!$&. Oh, goooooood for yooooouuuuuu. Good for me? Absolutely! Good for you? Not so much.” I mean, I’m gesturing to my imaginary friend, I’m talking to her, nodding, and she’s in total agreement with me. Imaginary friends are perfect like that.
Now I cannot tell you what the conversation was between this husband and wife, but it was probably something like this. Wife: “Honey, why you gotta be so mean?” Husband: “Because that girl was just too goshdarn happy, and I wanted to impose my miserable mood on her.” Wife: “Oh. OK.”
I guess my point is straightforward. I run because when I’ve finished running, I’m happy. The happy could last all day, or it could last for an hour. But one thing is guaranteed. For at least a portion of my day, I’m happy, and that's a pretty big deal, for me. There is so much to be unhappy about, that you really have to make a point to squeeze in the happy, wherever you can find it. Here's a favorite clip of mine, from Finding Nemo, about feeling happy.
I know it sounds ridiculously simple. Kind of like when a child asks where babies come from. Simple question, complicated answer. I’ll go so far as to say that I’m a better person since I’ve started running. Colors are more vibrant, friendships are more treasured, food tastes more better. Yeah, I said it. More better.
I’ve come to know myself better and I’ve come to an improved understanding about relationships. Sometimes it’s more difficult to understand those close to you, because by definition, the difficulties probably include you. Running is not a cure-all, I know. You could substitute anything in place of it, as long as it makes you happy. I know my walker friends get the same happy feeling when they walk, and I know those who love to weight lift, scrapbook, volunteer, or finish a DIY project. There are so many things that can make you feel happy, I hope that you know what yours is. It’s important to define what happy is for you, and then make sure you include it in your life on a regular basis.
Have you defined what makes you happy?
Do you go around quoting movies in your head?
Did you ever have an imaginary friend?
Enjoy the holiday!