Fringe Benefits…

July in Tennessee. 95 degrees in the shade. 127% humidity. Air like gravy. You could scoop it with a spoon. Put it on your biscuits. We walk around in it. Breathe it. Wear it on our skin.

And so….we crazy types who like to run (or bike, or hike, etc…) find ourselves setting the alarm earlier and earlier to catch those couple of hours when the temp will plummet to 84* and there will be pinpricks of night in the air, and the dark will create an illusion of cool, and maybe, just maybe, we can breathe. I’m not always happy about it, to be honest. But I do it. Because it makes me strong. And healthy. Because the running teaches me so much about life. About doing what is hard. About pain. About persistence.

And here is the other thing I know. That every time I go out there…every time I do the hard thing…there will be something I didn’t expect. A fringe benefit. A gift I could not have thought to ask for. For instance….

Saturday morning…fog lies heavy, like a blanket, on the cornfields. Slanting rays of sunlight refract through the trees making spectacular displays of light. Prisms. Colors sorting themselves into groups. I. Am. Dazzled. And I am only getting started…

I know the Natchez Trace Bridge. I watched it being built. I have biked over it. Sat on the edge of it. Seen it in sunshine and snow. But I have never seen it like this….

I become part of it. Part of the cloud. Part of the unknowing. The mystery. My heart is pounding. I am laughing. Out loud.

I could be in bed right now.
I could be missing
this….

And…

I could have missed the barred owl. Keeping late hours. Exchanging love songs with a distant sweetheart. He was so close I could feel the tremolo of his voice in my chest…

I could have missed the long, black ribbon, lazily threading its way across my path. Stopping occasionally to scent the air with his tongue. Majestic. Elegant. Beautiful. Black snake…

Wildflowers. Chipmunks. Squirrels. Rabbits. Birds…….

It’s not only in the running, though.

When Mike and I chose to do the hard work of rebuilding a marriage, we could not imagine all the ancillary gifts that would surprise us. They surprise us still…a little at a time.

My friends who have walked…are walking…the sometimes harrowing road of adoption…uncertain, costly, emotional…tell of unexpected graces…gifts they could never have anticipated.

My run was not without cost. One of those gorgeous slanting rays of sunlight blinded me long enough for me to miss a tree root. I stumbled and opened a nice gash in my knee. I had a few bloody miles ahead of me. There will always be a price. But it is a price well worth paying.

What is the hard thing you are afraid of? So afraid that you are paralyzed to move forward? I wonder what might be unleashed in the universe if you were to make the hard choice to plunge in.

“When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible…” ~Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” ~Goethe