Nothing speeds you up like a narrow path.
That’s what I decided yesterday when I was moping about taking more time than was necessary and never getting anything done and procrastinating and, well, feeling generally sorry for myself. It was a nice day, so I headed out the door for a run. Another delaying tactic, for sure.
Now, I am no speedster. No marathoner either. Pretty much a plodder these days. When I hit the streets or the sidewalks I pretty much shuffle along. I don’t measure my pace in terms of minutes per mile or miles per hour. It’s more of a how-long-can-you-go before-walking kind of thing.
But along yesterday’s run I was feeling pretty good …and then the sidewalk ended. I had to choose: turn back, run in the street or take the well-worn path through the grass ahead. It was clear what other folks had chosen. So I did.
Onto the dirt path I went. It was dusty but quite flat. Really no different from the sidewalk except that it was narrow. Too narrow for my shuffle. It forced me to put one foot completely in front of the other. And all of a sudden I was fast. Well, faster.
Go figure. Putting one in front of the other on the narrow path made me faster. The truth of that promise smacked me straight in the face. But I kept running. Running and thinking:
- The narrow path forced me forward.
- The narrow path disallowed my slovenly foot next to foot shuffle.
- The narrow path didn’t allow U-turns because I had passed my exit or missed my cue.
- The narrow path squelched the desire to switch lanes to get past the slow person in front of me.
There were no other lanes. Just mine. And there was only room for one runner. Me. The way ahead was clear. It was mostly straight with slight deviations for grassy mounds, a storm drain and a muddy spot created by some invading cyclists. I could tell by the evidence in the tread marks.
Others had come this way before me. Created this path. Run it alone, as I was. They’ll never know my thanks, but in that moment I thanked them.
Funny, when I got to the corner, the path made a right turn onto a wide asphalt trail that snuggled up to the road. That asphalt didn’t seem so inviting. So I turned back, toward home. Along the same path. You can run it in both directions.
On the way back I was faster.
Then, wouldn’t you know, when I returned to my keyboard the writing came easily? The narrow path is a marvelous facilitator. I wonder why I spend so much time avoiding it?
I hit the roads for a brief run yesterday. Well, run/walk, because that’s what I’m up to. Neither my endurance nor my physiology seems quite ready to take the full run plunge. So I head out, intending to alternate running and walking. But when will I switch?
This was so easy when I tried it at the gym because it was a confined, measured, timed space. I could alternate laps or I could run 1 minute, walk the next. But on the roads, I have to be more creative. I could watch my watch but minute by minute seemed a bit compulsive. I could count my steps, also a fun-sucker. I could alternate houses or mailboxes, but they were so randomly spaced. Didn’t want to short change the resting, after all.
So what I fell into was using the environment or the terrain. Jog the shade, walk the sunny part. Jog the incline, walk the flat. Jog the block, walk the next.
That last one got me thinking. What do I do with the turn? Do I continue the jog if I’m jogging? What if I’m walking? Do I make the turn before I start jogging? Generally, I realized, I walk the turns. I don’t start the next jog until I see what’s around the bend.
As a kinesthetic Christian, this made me think about how I navigate the turns in my God-directed life. Do I start my jog trusting I will be able to make it up the hill if that’s what greets me after the bend? Or, do I walk around all the corners and then decide whether or not I will jog once I see what greets me ahead?
Yesterday, just for fun, I decided to jog all the turns. It was fun. And it gave me some momentum to get up the hills. No hills? No problem. Then I was a blur on the flat – in my own mind.
I wonder what would happen if I jogged all the curves in my day today.