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.

  1. September 29, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Love it, Ali! You crack me up! I nearly christened my laptop with coffee when I read the Augustus/chocolate factory analogy.

    I, too, am not a fan of running. I have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill. I hate getting on it but I love how I feel when I step off . . . endorphins, sweet endorphins.

    As for your lung issues, exercise should help improve your lung function over time (I’m sure you already knew that). You know my brother had CF which is a genetic disease that affects the lungs. That’s one reason why I’m a proponent of doing what you need to do to stay healthy. So, keep up the good work and I’ll refrain from gettin’ all big sister on you. 😉

    • Ali
      September 29, 2011 at 9:51 am

      Blake, I am very glad to have made you laugh — and pleased that your laptop didn’t suffer for it. Also, DON’T WASTE THE COFFEE. *ahem*

      You are right, too, about the endorphins (love them!) and the lung issues. Thank you for the kudos. 🙂 (Now I want a candy bar. How did that happen?!?!)

  2. September 29, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I have the goal of getting in shape and running, so that eventually I can do the Princess Half Marathon. It looks really fun to do. I don’t have a treadmill though so I have to find time to go outside and run… right now I’m starting small with the Wii Fit mostly the yoga.

    • September 30, 2011 at 7:57 am

      I’ve heard that the Wii Fit is an excellent workout! That is a really good place to start, Jessica. 🙂 Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I hope that you can work up to the Princess Marathon. That sounds AWESOME!

  3. September 29, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    I now full-on, bow to you. You are officially My Idol. I made my character, Peri, a runner because I’d like to be a runner, except I have a slightly tempermental ticker (due to having rheumatic fever as a child) and shin splints (due to high impact aerobics in the 80s). I still dream that I can do it, however. If you can, I can!

    • September 30, 2011 at 7:59 am

      Oh, wow — Gayle! I’m totally blushing. I’m really glad that you’re going to give it a go. There was something my brother used to do for shin splints, but I forget what it is. I will ask him! 🙂

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