It’s been a busy May. Completing a new manuscript, finishing track season, a week in Europe, and then immediately up in Mammoth for what was meant to be a period of restoration. Instead, the stress and dehydration and jet lag all caught up to me and I spent yesterday flat on my back with some version of the stomach flu. I blamed it on the Atomic wings I’d had for dinner the night before, but in reality it was just one of those times when the body decided it was convenient to completely shut down. There were moments during the day when I behaved very much like Tom Dumoulin during the Queen Stage of this year’s Giro and others when I sipped chicken noodle soup and ate Saltines like a child before quickly falling back to sleep on the couch. All in all, yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Yet through all the fatigue and intestinal discomfort, I felt the need to get up off the couch and do something. There’s always a to-do list if you allow it to happen. I heard my training buddy telling me to stop being such a wimp and go for a run, if for no other reason than to burn off the wings and Lagunitas. I heard the voice of my webmaster reminding me to get off the couch and blog, or to at least come up with a format for the weekly newsletter I’m soon to begin sending. I thought of the two completed screenplays that need polishing, the research for the new book that is soon to swallow me whole, and of course, the minutiae of the upcoming cross country season. The training plan is almost locked, but the details of buying new uniforms, planning training camp and basically finding a way to get back on the podium at State is never far from my thoughts.
In the days leading up to it all I could have decided to switch off my phone, unplug my laptop, ignore Twitter, and not indulge in that International Plan so kindly offered by my service provider. With this plan I can receive calls, texts and email from anywhere in the world. This sounds like a nice idea until you realize you’re in a fabled European city, more caught up in your Twitter feed than the breathtaking fountain whose mist is landing so delicately atop your screen as a tactile reminder of some colossal loss of priorities. The point is that I don't work in a coal mine for a living, so the self-pity about being overworked is my own doing. There’s a lot going on in the world. We all have a choice of whether to completely engage, or to simply check out completely now and again in order to gain some mental downtime and perspective.
This blog is a good case in point. It started more than a dozen years ago while I was covering the Tour de France. It was easy to find subject matter in those days because each post simply revolved around the daily bike race. I’d like to think I’ll get back to the Tour one of these days, but it's not likely (sorry, Susie B.). Over the years the blog has meandered from one essay to another, with me unable to decide whether to write about writing or running or reading — with the effect that it’s all become a jumble. And while the blog is very much a work in progress right now as I struggle to find its voice (bear with me everyone… it will all be worthwhile if you stick around), I’m certainly not going to write about politics or engage in the hatred that has seeped into everyday Internet life. When people write me to ask the reason there’s no "Comments" section on the blog, that hate plays a big role. The last thing I want is for this to become a forum for the spineless and neglected.
I digress. I’ve rallied. Today is my birthday and I could not imagine spending it in a sickbed, especially not up here in Mammoth — one of my favorite places in the world. I have three more weeks to find restoration before starting cross country practice. The new book will start when it starts. I read a missive from a new friend this morning about his first day hiking the Appalachian Trail, which was yesterday. So while I was out of service, he was starting a great adventure. I find inspiration in his journey. Great inspiration. New challenges are like a great commission, pushing us to live life more fully. And so I know that in three weeks or so, when the new book hearkens and the glorious wonder of a new cross country season wraps its loving arms around me, I will be as inspired by my own next steps as by those of my friend, who now wanders the Maine wilderness.
But between adventures there must be rest, even if the body takes it without asking.
Cue Rafiki. This is the true circle of life.