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MOTHER RUNNER

A New Truth

While researching a story about being too busy and the toll it can take on your health, I came across this insightful, truthful piece called The 'Busy' Trap by Tim Kreider. (And it's also quite funny. Check out this line: "if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary.")

I'd never heard of Tim Kreider before, but I liked the name of and contents in his latest book—We Learn Nothing: Essays and Cartoons—and put it on hold at the library. The waiting list was months long, and I promptly forgot about it until last week, when my email inbox let me know I was up. (I love those emails, btw.)

Screen shot 2013-05-27 at 8.23.09 PMI've been, ahem, too busy to dig in farther than the first essay titled "Reprieve", but I had to share this paragraph from it which total resonated with me.

I don't know why we take our worst moods so much more seriously than our best, crediting depression with more clarity than euphoria. We dismiss peak moments and passionate love affairs as an ephemeral chemical buzz, just endorphins or hormones, but accept those 3 a.m. bouts of despair as unsentimental insights into the truth about our lives.

It's easy now to dimiss the year [after he'd survived a near-death experience] as nothing more than the same sort of shaky, hysterical high you'd feel after getting clipped by a taxi. But you could also try to think of it as a glimpse of reality, being jolted out of a lifelong stupor.

It's like the like the revelation I had the first time I ever flew in an airplane as a kid: when you break through the cloud cover you realize that above the passing squalls and doldrums there is a realm of eternal sunlight, so keen and brilliant you have to squint against it, a vision to hold onto when you descend once again beneath the clouds, under the oppressive, petty jurisdiction of the local weather. 

Of course I immediately circled his writing back  to running, and tried to reframe my sometimes intense, sometimes mild depression that I am forever hoping will one day just magically go away and leave me alone for good.

Barring that, maybe I can have more control over it than I believe I have. Maybe the way I feel after a run isn't just the concoction of endorphins and exhaustion; maybe the rock-star truth I feel after running is as much of my truth—if not more—as the sunken rock truth that drags me down without warning or reason.

I'm going to try to think of it more that way.

That keen, brilliant sunshine, that one that I always thought I artificially created with effort, is already within me. Sure, it takes a little prodding and a few miles to get the generator to start humming, but the whole dang machine is within me. In my legs, my brain, my moods, myself.

Although We Learn Nothing, I've already learned quite a bit from you, Mr. Kreider. Thank you.

And at the risk of sounding like a literary mother runner geek, are there any passages you've read recently that you circle back to your running? 

17 responses to “A New Truth

  1. I don’t know how this connects to running but my most favorite recent quote
    Is from Gone Girl and goes something like this. “After a day
    of watching daytime TV, do all advertisers think women
    bleed and clean all day?” (You get the idea, right?:0)

  2. Beautiful passage. Dimity, I read the link in your article about your bouts with depression. I would love to read anything else you would care to write on this topic. I started to running to avoid taking antidepressants. I still get sucked in to the blahs, and like you think that it will go away one day. Most of my life I’ve been trying to find the right combination of eating the right things, thinking the right thoughts and/or exercising the proper amount. I’ve come to realize that depression will be a life-long battle for me – sometimes sucking me under and sometimes quietly waiting in the background, but it’s not going to go away. Being a runner certainly helps.

  3. Beautiful passage. Dimity, I read the link in your article about your bouts with depression. I would love to read anything else you write on this topic. I started to running to avoid taking antidepressants. I still get sucked in, and like you think that it will go away one day. Most of life I’ve been trying to find the right combination of eating the right things, thinking the right thoughts and/or exercising the proper amount. I’ve come to realize that depression will be a life-long battle for me – sometimes sucking me under and sometimes quietly waiting in the background, but it’s not going to go away.

  4. I circle everything back to running & try really hard to filter those thoughts in conversation…but thank you dimity for sharing this. Puts a new spin on my perspective – not sure if you girls hear it enough or ever – your work makes the tribe stronger 🙂 many thanks!

  5. Wow! This is something I’ve been struggling with, especially with a week off sick. Yesterday I was finally able to get out for a run and there was the sunshine, waiting for me.
    The book is on the shelf at my local library, I’m going to pick it up tomorrow.

  6. Great post, Dimity. Often I read something that speaks to my running but, alas, I am terrible about making a note of it. Vow to do better.

    As someone who struggled mightily and repeatedly with depression up into my early 40s I can say I feel you. It’s the pits to experience and even tougher to explain to other people, especially loved ones. My light at the end of the tunnel began with – yep! – the early stages of perimenopause. So there is something to look forward to, trust me.

    Continue to fight the good fight, Dimity. You are braver than you know.

    And naturally I can’t sign off without a book recommendation: “TransAtlantic” by Colum McCann. Oh. My. God. I was transfixed.

  7. Always it comes down to Winnie the Pooh and what Christopher Robin told him, “you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Whenever I start to doubt myself, I think of this!

  8. I love the idea of letting those high moments be your truth. I always loved the message Jenny Lawson, blogger and author, shared. I think a friend said it to her first. Pardon my language, “Please remember, depression is a lying bastard. Life will be bright again, I promise.” It’s a beautiful way to re-frame. Depression is the liar. Those dark moments are not your truest truth.

    It reminds me of a beautiful blog post I read once about ‘drops of awesome’. Instead of longing to be a happier person, a more positive, a more engaged mom, the author suggests that we celebrate each moment we ARE that as a drop of awesome. So I put down the phone, ignored the dings of message, and completely engaged with my kids – I am an engaged mom! Awesome. (Instead of what we so often do when we do something good… berate ourselves for not doing it the rest of the time, tell ourselves we should be doing more, doing better).
    http://www.daringyoungmom.com/2012/12/19/drops-of-awesome/
    (Warning, she does go into a Christian spin of it in the second part… but the beginning part I think is applicable to everyone no matter your beliefs).

  9. great post Dimity!! Love that idea that it’s already in me, I’ve already got that eternal sunshine on tap…kinda reminds me of the lyrics of Colin Hay’s “waiting for my real life to begin” which I had on repeat during my run the other day. That idea that I “woke up and, suddenly, nothing happened” but “in my dreams I slew the dragon” resonates SO much with me. because I think too often I pull myself out of challenges even before I begin, me being my own worst critic…surely I “can’t”. but in my dreams, I travel that cobbled lane and slay that dragon. who knows?? what if I just reach out and go for it?

    Cheers to squinting in eternal sunshine 🙂
    Gigi

  10. Needed this post this morning! I will definitely have to check out that book. Also, I read you article about being too busy in Fitness. 🙂

  11. I was reading 2 Timothy and it talks about running the good race. I love that passage. So much in the Bible can translate back to running (or any other part of life).

    I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

  12. Thanks Dimity, for sharing and for the book recommendation. It is now on my to read list! Twenty years ago I started running to clear my head and calm the anxiety and depression that used to plague me. I keep running now to keep those demons at bay.

  13. Thank you so much for this post, Dimity — it is so powerful. Those of us who tango with depression do assign more truth to undertow than to those moments when we are soaring. Sometimes I think the joy or light moments are interpreted as a reprieve from the baseline. It’s a giant shift in perspective to call them equals. (And giant-er to say that perhaps the bright spots have even more truth in them than the spots we see as dark — out of habit, or internal chemistry, or both…) I don’t have a literary inspiration for you right now, but I do have tremendous gratitude. Thanks again!

  14. Yes! Yes! Yes! I’ve been obsessing/contemplating this quote from Rumi the last few days: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” I love this! Not only is it so full of boundless love, but it also takes me to that place of not judging others or myself, be it running, parenting, or in relationship.

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