This morning when I woke up, and while laying bed, I hummed and hawed about whether or not I really wanted to go on my dawn run. I decided to go. Success number one for the day.
As I laced on my sneakers and locked the door behind me, I then weighed the options regarding route; would I hit the hilly Yonge Street path I usually take? Or perhaps a jaunt through Mt. Pleasant cemetery and the pretty trails it presents? No, what I concluded would be the best use of my time that day, would be to stick to my usual loop around the neighbourhood dog park. Yes. The park. Easy, quick, and close to home. I could zip around the track a few times and bang off five kilometres in no time flat (literally).
As my feet hit the pavement, the rhythmic beat of my heart ushering me along, I quickly got into the “zone”. Ah yes, this is why I run.
And then, I saw it. There it was, in all its shaded, mysterious glory. A poorly marked, overgrown entrance to the unknown. What I am talking about at this opening in the brush, is a path that leads runners, walkers, hikers, and cyclists alike, into one of Toronto’s many ravine hiking trails. Since moving in to the neighbourhood almost a year ago, I had heard of the wondrous routes waiting on the other side. I know many runners who log their miles on those trails daily, attributing their runner’s high to the little taste of nature, making their runs all the more serene. I have been told that it’s as if you are no longer in the city, the lush green canopy shielding you from the noise, hustle, and reality of the concrete jungle that surrounds.
This was all hearsay though, as I had never even thought to check it out for myself. I took up running on the streets after all, and the sidewalks map my path each day. Even when I am in my hometown, a small rural farming community, where do I run, but along the paved country roads? That is where I feel good. This is how I stay the course.
But something inside me shifted that day. I am not sure if it was the way the early morning sun kissed the leaves of the maples, or how the sweet birdsong audible from within the treetops beckoned me to come near. At that point, my body craved change, my mind screamed for challenge. No matter the root cause, all I knew was that without even thinking, my legs were leading me down the muddy path, and I had suddenly become a trail runner.
The sounds of crickets and twigs cracking under my stride; the rise and fall of the terrain and my lungs in chorus…it was sublime. With each step I took, I felt more and more welcomed into this new world, even the bubbling brook beside me was singing a song of support. As I curved my way deeper and deeper into the valley, I felt all the tension in my body disintegrate and then nothing but pure bliss. I was not feeling good. I was really and truly feeling great.
On my way home that morning, I reflected on what a truly amazing experience I had just allowed myself, simply by being open to the possibility. For months I had avoided that gateway to green space, afraid of what lay on the other side of the trees. Fearing greatness is an idea I have thought about often, and this was a prime example. I have admittedly been an active saboteur in my own life many times for fear of change, fear of movement, fear of possibility. I have destroyed relationships, my health, career opportunities, all because I was too terrified to take the plunge and welcome an alternative to the norm. And I think many can relate. Often, we function day to day with clear goals in mind, but when it comes time to break through certain boundaries, to alter some bad habits, we shut down. With habit comes comfort, and it can be extremely un-comfortable to stretch ourselves beyond that set point, even when we know abundance can be ours. Allowing myself to take that ravine run, had opened my heart to more. And it is a lesson I will put to work in many other areas of my life.
Fearing our highest potential is natural. As humans, we tend to focus most on fixing the bad, and sometimes forget that we can and should nurture our good. Because it is our good that can most easily transform us into great.