A Confession: Investing Your Heart
It appears that I have done something unthinkable. Oh, it started off innocent enough. A passing curiosity. Or so I thought. Then, it developed into a habit. A three-day-a-week habit.
I’ve started running.
I know this is shocking, because my philosophy has always been, “I run – if something or someone is chasing me.” For one thing, I have asthma that flares up when I run. For another, RUNNING SUCKS.
But after a month of doing this, I can do several things I couldn’t do before. One, run a mile straight through. I’ve never done that before my entire life. In high school gym class, I was ALWAYS the kid with the dr’s note, excusing her from the mile. I’ve written more gym reports than anyone else I’ve ever met. (Dude, that might’ve been the best punishment ever. You freakin’ sent me to the library for the ENTIRE period. That’s like sending Augustus to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Minus the accidental chocolate swim. Moving on…)
Anything but running. I horseback rode as a kid. I played soccer for a very short time. (I was a kickass goalie, despite the bloody noses and that time I threw up on the field. I told you I was sick, Dad. *shakes fist*) I was on the school swim team for a while in middle school. But running? PSHAW. I bit my thumb at you, you beef – you acorn! You queen of filth! Of garbage! Of putrescence! (Shakespeare, meet The Princess Bride. You’re welcome. Also, it took me three tries to spell putrescence.)
So, now I can run a mile straight through. On Tuesday, I cut 30 seconds off of my time. I run three days a week, doing two miles total. That might not seem like a big deal, but every time I get off the treadmill, I feel like a rock star. A golden god, if you will. Of course, I also feel like passing out on the floor, but manage to avoid it.
Here’s the crux: I also, due to a series of events, have scar tissue on my lungs. I was a very, very early baby. I really should have a lot more problems than I do. My avoidance of running wasn’t solely born of supreme laziness, but of Holy Shit – I Cannot Breathe.
But the truth is limits don’t matter. Not really. You never know what you can do, until you try it. Until you do it. Otherwise, it’s all just guesswork. Conjecture. And, probably, a large amount of What-ifs and Fear. (Those motherfrakkers. Gods, I miss Battlestar Galactica. And by that, I mean remember the towel scene with Jamie Bamber? *sigh*)
Sure, I have to convince myself to get on the treadmill each time. But I do it. There was a time I thought I couldn’t – just like there was a time when I couldn’t carry a tune. (That’s a story for another time, and it involves Newsies! And now I’ll be singing music from that movie ALL DAY. Damn it.)
The truth is that I don’t believe in can’t. It’s just another fancy way of saying ‘won’t’ and letting fear eat you from the inside out. It’s being too scared to try, which is paralyzing and soul-sucking. How often do we say what-if and if only I…
If only you what? Go. Do. Try. LEARN. Be brave. Be bold. Do you want to write a novel? Do it. Carve out the time. Do you want to learn to paint? Try it. You only have something to gain. Want to go rock climbing? Find a gym that offers it.
I think that, especially as we get older, we’re afraid of looking silly or stupid. We’re afraid of not being good at something. We’re afraid to be fools. But isn’t that part of life? Doing something completely daunting, and seeing what happens? Being a fool is a learning experience. God knows, I’ve been more foolish than not. Surprisingly, I’m okay with that. Are you?
One of my favorite quotes is something that Ted Hughes wrote in a letter to his son, Nicholas.
The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.
Follow your heart. Invest it people and pursuits. It isn’t something that’s meant to be hidden away. Your heart, your courage, your will – those are your greatest assets. And don’t worry – you can thank me later.