I had coffee with a friend a few days ago. He sat across from me looking like the poster child for career passion and success. Eyes sparkly, nervously twitching, beaming, as he told me about his plans to travel to India in the coming months.
As a sports photographer, his trips have been some of the most enviable adventures I’ve had the misfortune of actively stalking – while sitting in yoga pants, on the couch, eating a bagel.
He was in town for only a few more fleeting minutes, before returning back home after his latest adventure, and on to a, what, holiday? Can I call it that? Is it a holiday when you love what you do? I wouldn’t really know.
He’d run up Lions Head that morning. Having turned down his offer to join him, I was feeling underwhelmed by my pilates class, but reassured that I hadn’t embarrassed myself with an unkept promise of actually running up the mountain. In my past experience, I can’t say running UP or DOWN mountains has gone particularly well for me. Even the thought of suffering only through burning lungs and a bruised ego gave me waves of nausea and a tingle in my (completely healed) foot.
I love other people’s success. It’s possibly why I’ve finally turned to the self-help section at the book store. If all these other people can get their life together, then so can I, right? Maybe fighting depression and anxiety with little blue & white pills and as much running and gym as I can muster, will all be worth it when that little light bulb goes off in my head, queueing heavenly light and a chorus of angels from above.
So when he sat before me, animated yet shy, playing down his excitement and love for what he does, his boyish charm never wavering for a second, I was completely pulled in.
Maybe I love those books not for the success, but for the realisation that not everyone spends their life in career bliss. Maybe, you get a job, pay the bills and spend the rest of the time pursuing passions, like running. Or reading self-help books. You know, when the weight of the world feels too much and all.
Maybe, I drop a ton of moola on these books, on training, on pills, on eating out, on coffee with people who bring light into my life, and when I come out the other end, it’s just as it was before. Except, maybe it’s no longer a fight. No longer a struggle against myself. It’s a realisation that not everything needs to be mapped out and timed precisely.
Maybe not all of us sparkle over thoughts of upcoming career moves while drinking coffee. Maybe some of us just listen, brushing away bagel crumbs as we do so. And then we go back to our lives. Our happy, full lives, and remember all the wonderful things that make up for a lack of focus; of direction; of guidance.
Or maybe, our paths just take a little bit longer to materialise. Maybe we’re the people forging the trails we find on the mountains. Someone had to put them there. So maybe finding the path takes that much longer because it takes a lot of backwards and forwards on the same stretch of ground before we see the path we’ve been creating.
Maybe someone stumbles onto your new path and as you watch their back disappear before you, the faintest marking of a path branching away from yours reveals itself, giving you the slightest indication of hope.
I’m not sure which one I believe just yet. Maybe neither.
Maybe I should go to India. Go all Eat.Pray.Love on myself. Or maybe the answers are at the end of my next run. At this point it’s hard to tell, but maybe I’m reaching out towards it, fingers only millimeters shy of grasping at it. So maybe, the only thing to do, is keep moving forward.
– Happy Running