I sat yesterday with two trusted friends and colleagues, both of them doing their best to help me think through a challenging situation. I took so much of what we talked about to heart, but one thing, in particular, is sticking with me this morning. Something I knew, have always known and sought to do, but have certainly forgotten in the change and shift and heartache of the last couple of years.
“Focus on the long view, Julie,” he said.
I heard it. Knew he was right. Could vaguely remember a time in my life when such a view was easier to grasp. And then this morning…
…this morning I made a comment on the Facebook post of someone I care about a great deal. She’s running a 5k in a few weeks. Her second this year. And what I know is that a few years ago, she’d never have imagined such a thing. Wouldn’t have thought it possible. She was a new mother, struggling with work and home and everything else in life. Finding time to work out, to focus on herself and her own health and well-being–it seemed a pipe dream at best. I know the effort she put in, and so “So proud of you…” I wrote to her.
I commented on her post on my way into the gym, a mid-morning work out break a necessity to clear my head and keep me focused the rest of the day. And as I clicked “Post,” I smiled, deep down, all the way to my toes. I know my friend’s story so well because it is mine, too. Because I know, too, not thinking physical health and fitness really possible. I know, too, wondering how I’d ever run half a mile, much less several miles. I know, too, that weak muscles make you feel weak inside, too. And that strong muscles make you stand prouder. Taller. More sure of yourself and confident about what you want, even if the getting there is going to be so. very. hard. And take much. longer. than you’d like.
I know about crying because I didn’t think I could do it. And then crying because I did. I know the pain of unused muscles being forced into discipline and submission, and I know the sweetness of realizing those muscles are giving it back to you in spades. I know what it feels like to think more clearly because you feel lighter and fitter and capable of taking on whatever’s coming, because you’ve discovered, deep inside you, a level of grit and strength you didn’t know was there.
But all this? It was years…years, I tell you…in the making. In the doing. In the transforming. It was a series of day-to-day choices, small adaptations, little things, here and there. It wasn’t any one moment. Any magic pill. Any specific or strict plan. It was a sense of the long view–that I was in this for life. For me. For my daughter.
Patience is not my forte. And some days I feel like I spend half my time wishing/thinking/saying aloud, “Get there faster!” about any number of situations or world events or relationships. This often serves me well and gets things done. It also often leaves me (and likely everyone around me) frustrated to no end.
And these frustrated, crazy moments? These are the ones with opportunity for growth. These are the ones where I get to choose how I’ll react to something not going quite the way I’d planned or hoped. These are the ones in which it’s a good thing to take a breath. Take a step back. Close my eyes and remember…the long view. The big picture. The whole story of this life I’m living.
This one moment? It’s not forever. But in this moment? I’ve got a chance to say or do or create something that, one day, even if not today, might have turned out to make all the difference.
In the long view, that is.