down with history, up with your head.

There she stood at the end of a corridor of oak, hemlock and fern.  Tears stained her cheeks or perhaps I imagined them, knowing they were sure to fall when she saw that I was already crying, saw me collapse, broken again.

All day long she'd tended to me as she always does, had tended to so many others too, and I was certain she would bear the strain of not being able to nurse me all the way to a finish she knew I coveted, not because she put much stock in such endeavors but because she almost dutifully wanted for me what I wanted for me.

Which is why I cried.

How she weathered such days with a heart like hers, I couldn't fathom.  How she had survived a life so full of mistreatment, disappointment and loss, I couldn't even bear to consider.

That boundless empathy had to be a burden even though it comforted even rescued others when their bodies and spirits were spent.

I thought back to a C. S. Lewis quote discovered on a church bulletin of my youth:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

How Lindsay had avoided the temptation to lock it up safe is infinitely beyond my comprehension, though I suspect there aren't chains enough to bind a heart that big and vulnerability was inescapable.

Blessed am I that it's the case.

She and I had been "we" for so long and through so much that it was nearly impossible for me to imagine life working any other way even though we had taken many (too damn many) years stumbling zigzaggeredly before we straightened our story. We'd mutually crushed as youngsters, spent time together again a few years later, but then wandered off in opposite directions for a decade and more.

Time and circumstance chart chaotic routes, navigating by stars that all too frequently go shooting, and by the time we intersected and merged, we were both bowed, humbled and privy to the perspective provided by years of suffering.  We were wiser (which only meant that we better understood how little we knew of anything) but wounded, diminished and desperate for better days.

I couldn't begin to list all of the incredible times we've shared since then.  The adventures have been many but even the quiet, uneventful moments of domesticity have been better, far better, than the days that came before.

Unfortunately, on days like last Saturday when my body had failed me (because I had failed it) and falling short yet again of an attainable goal threatened despondency, it's all too easy to forget how wondrous life really is.  Some have suggested that running is a metaphor for life and I've heard the same said about various hobbies, activities or vocations.  I happen to believe that it's true, but getting lost in the metaphor, mistaking it for life itself, is vain and foolish.

Bad days define good days and good days, in turn, have an interesting way of making a good many bad days seem, well, far less bad.

And there, right there at the end of that passage through the forest, stood my very best of days, mindful of how little the finishing or not finishing of any footrace matters when weighed against the joys and sorrows of life beyond the metaphor.

Thank you, Lindsay, for all of our better days.


  1. Leon ... I'm brought to such emotions when I read your thoughts , fears , joys and accomplishments ... I'm grateful to have met such an insightful man and his wonderful family ... Can't wait to see Lindsay and the girls at Labor Pain Ultra this year ... Be Well my friend ...

    1. As always, JC, I appreciate your kind words and send them right back your way. Here's to crossing paths again soon!

  2. "getting lost in the metaphor, mistaking it for life itself, is vain and foolish."

    Well thought and well put. Beautiful post.

  3. Thanks, Aaron! Every now and again I have a moment of clarity...too few, I'm afraid!

  4. Amazing. At a loss for words. Thank you for sharing.