I've been benched. No running for the better part of the summer. As usual, my timing is impeccable. And since I'm no longer running my angst and blues and words and time and ice cream away, it means I should probably start writing again. Quickly.
The onset of this particular stress fracture and running hiatus happens to coincide with my son's first major soccer tournament. Awesome.
I'd like to say I'm still totally zen on the sidelines, but at 9 am this morning my voice could be heard bellowing across the pitch at my son.
"When the goalie comes out of the box like that, RUN THROUGH HIM!"
Ummmmm. Sorry, opposing team goalie's mom. If it's any consolation, my son weighs all of 20 pounds soaking wet so he would mostly just waft across the keeper like a dandelion seed. But also, he'd score a goal. And that's really what I was going for in that little tidbit of advice I offered.
The boys lost that game. And you'd never know it from their faces. I love the half smile, tongue hanging out, crazy-eyed face my son makes when the ball is at his feet. I love watching him play.
But I miss having my own game to play. I miss the joy of running through a rain shower, the relief of nailing a final 800m rep, the satisfaction of sore legs, the high of a breakthrough race, even the low of a disappointing finish.
I don't want to live vicariously. I just want to live. To get out there and run things down and over and away.
But I won't be benched forever. I'll be back in the game eventually. In the meantime, I'm determined to enjoy this season on the sidelines, cheering for the people I love. (I'm also determined to be a bit less obnoxious and refrain from promoting violence against innocent 10 year old goalies.)
I told my son tonight, as I tucked his tired little legs into bed, that losing teaches us so much more than winning ever could. And I'd say the same thing about struggle and injury and disappointment. Of course I want to skip right to the overcoming part, to the victorious part, to the happy clappy celebration part. Who doesn't? But as skipping is forbidden (literally) while I have this stress fracture, I'm going to have to settle for the long slow plod through this land of injury and frustration. It's a path that will make me stronger and the eventual victories sweeter.
(It might also turn me into a total head case on the soccer sidelines, but let's just focus on the "make us stronger" part right now, mmkay?)
Win, lose, draw, DNS or DNF, I know what matters. And it has nothing to do with the score or the time or the record. What matters is heart and grit, perseverance and optimism, grace and gratitude. And I can do and be and cultivate every one of those things from the bench. When it comes to pursuing what actually matters, I have no restrictions, no limitations, no excuses, and every reason to go all in and all out on the sidelines.