My ankles have always been my weak spot. They were my excuse in PE to opt out of tumbling or sprinting. I’d cling to my wobbly ankles like a lifeguard to save me from sports and to show the world that “Yes, I deserve to sit it out on the bleachers”.
Lately, though, my ankles have become stronger. Not that I’m walking like a ballerina. I still trip, wobble, and make a mess of things as I walk, but I can feel my core muscles tightening and lending a hand. Rather than falling flat on the floor, I wobble, shriek for theatrics, and then right myself again.
I’ve been getting a few short runs in on sunnier days lately. The air is crisp, but I’ve been thankful to be out under the blue sky.
As I run, my mind wanders. I think about how much time I have before I need to head back, the route I’ll be taking, and the conversations I had the previous day. I plan meals, vacations, and list chores. From time to time, I look out at the road ahead and enjoy the fallen leaves, the wispy sky and the scattering squirrels. Mostly, though, I’m running with my head bent, staring blankly at my shoes as the run passes me by with my thoughts still clinging to the future and the past.
I try to remind myself that to truly be present in the moment of the run, I need to focus on my feet. Each step, each moment of impact grounds me to my being as it exists at that time. What’s happening around me? What’s the world like in that instant my worn shoe strikes pavement?
I look up.
My senses open up to the world around me. I suck in all of the light, color and life with each deep breath as my feet touch the earth.
And then I trip.
My ankle wobbles and my core lends a helping hand to right myself.
My gaze, once again, is brought down to the ground. And just as quickly, my mind is side-tracked. I fret about what might have happened, or worse-case scenarios. It’s like a wrestling match to get my mind back on track.
Being present, noticing and living the moment is incredibly hard. As easy as it is to say and to pin snappy motivational pins about it, actually doing it runs counter to our trained minds. We seem primed to focus on the future and past mistakes with only a cursory glance at the present.
But like my core muscles, which help straighten me when I’m about to fall, I need to build up a different set of core “muscles” to set me back gently on the present path when I “fall” too far forward or backward.
For in that small moment when I looked up and felt the world pulsing in and around me, I was truly running.