It’s months later and still you think about how you left her laying there. You just walked out and left. How could you have done that?
You were tired. She was too, or so you imagined. There really was nothing left to say. It had been a good run, and like all good things, it had ended. Suddenly, badly. There were tears. You weren’t proud of the things you said.
Sometimes, things don’t work out, no matter how much your heart wants them to, no matter how great your desire, no matter how much you love. They just slip out of your hands. You know that now. You knew that even then.
Something goes wrong and, as much as you don’t want it to end, you simply must walk away. Rest. Heal. Try again when you’re ready.
But still how you left her stays in your memory. Haunts you. Wakes you up in the dark hours, with the memories playing over and over in your mind like some video streaming from hell.
You really should have put that barbell back in the rack.
Some of us slipped away a pull-up at a time. One pull-up. Then another. Maybe on a band. Maybe even to full extension. A couple of deadlifts later, the path started to show itself. That’s how we wandered off from our lives. Or what we thought was life.
Some of us ran. Like the “Go” at the end of “3-2-1-Go!” was what we had been waiting to hear, all these mornings and evenings of our lives, biding our time until fresh, cold air blew into our lungs from a suddenly opened door.
It wasn’t that our past lives were so bad, so horrible, so wretched. Mostly, they were nice enough, beautiful in some cases, and yet they were beautifully killing us. Or maybe just hurting us in ways that would eventually choke some crucial artery and leave us light-headed on the floor with time running out and wondering as our breath became labored and our sight lines dimmed,“What the hell happened? How did I get here?”
The pain of that former life wasn’t always dramatic. Mostly, it was banal and insidious. A dull pain that we had grown to accept. A pair of uncomfortable shoes that we wore, not ever really knowing how shoes should feel, assuming that the problem was our feet, our minds, our thoughts. Until the pain wasn’t there anymore. The pain that we were so used to, the pain that felt like home. We had just assumed that this was how life moved, how time passed — for everyone.
But we had been wrong. So wrong. At least for us. It was like we had lived among people who spoke our language but we didn’t know our language was not ours. It was theirs. And we didn’t have to speak it. Like lost travelers, we only had to find our way to where others were speaking our words, and we could understand them so simply, like we had known them all of our lives.
Nicole Carroll once said about the murky bog of poor nutrition: “You’re so used to feeling like crap, you don’t know what it feels like to feel good, to feel wonderful.”
Then we glimpsed it, we tasted it, we felt it, we knew it – this good, this wonderful, this suddenly vibrant life. And those of us bold enough to run, we ran. Or maybe bold is not the right word. Maybe we were just scared enough. Or desperate enough. Maybe crazy enough. We ran away from what and who we were, towards who we could become, who we always wanted to be.
And now, here we are.
And now, I have to ask, what will we do with this freedom? What will we do with this power, this vision, this new life? What will we do on this day alone? This next hour? How will we not waste this new life? How?
“I would like to go for a ride with you, have you take me to stand before a river in the dark where hundreds of lightning bugs blink this code in sequence: right here, nowhere else! Right now, never again!” —Amy Hempel, “Tumble Home”