Right then the absolute beauty of the moment struck me - everything, from the melting snow tracing water across the sidewalk, to the honest-to-goodness chirping song of birds, to the mounds of blackened snow clinging to life at road's edge, and especially the pasty whiteness of my legs, flooded me with a near overwhelming sense of gratitude. Here I was, on this absolutely perfect spring day, running home. In a few minutes time I would be running on the dirt (and snow) of the Fells. But for this moment, on a vacant sidewalk in Assembly Row, pocked with months-old snow and ice, I was struck by beauty.
Exactly one year ago I underwent a "simple" knee surgery to remove a plica from my knee. Regardless of competing, I merely wanted to regain the freedom and ability to run without worry. There was nothing structurally wrong with the joint, just this extra bit of tissue causing pain whenever I ran. The recovery proved to be extended, pushing me deep into the pain cave, consuming my fitness and, honestly, a great sense of my identity. Today, as I ran on the melting snow in the Fells, listening to my breathing, hearing my foot steps, feeling the ground change between patches of dirt, snow, and rock, I forgot. I forgot that just a few months ago I wondered if I'd be able to run again. I forgot the trips to the ER, the blood tests, the doctor visits, the injections, the pain. I was simply running home. On the trails. In my shorty shorts. With my pasty white legs.
I didn't bother to check my scars.
One thing these past 525,600 minutes have taught me? Feelings and experiences pass. Our bodies and lives, despite our hopes, despite our desires, will always change. They will be no better, no worse, just different. Just as the pain and suffering of the many months post-op gradually gave way to a slow return to health and joy, today's bliss will eventually fade. But, as I finished my run, I asked, Does it have to? It is easy to accept these moments of joy, of pleasure, of connection to ourselves, to the trail, to the people around us, when things are going "our way." When things are not, it is much harder to accept our circumstances. My hope is that this past year will have left me not with nearly-invisible surgical scars, but with a greater appreciation for the ever changing nature of life, so that, one day, when the euphoria from today's run has faded, I will be open a new joy, a different joy, a different pain, a new experience, an acceptance, be it on the trail, or elsewhere.
526,600 minutes ago all I wanted was to be able to run without thought of injury, without pain. Today, I had that, in spades. For that I am grateful.