Feasting on Green, feasting on each other

cottonwood tree 4639s copyright chrisazimmer

Part I Feast of Movement

Wednesday’s run was hard, and I am feeling some despair. My achilles aches the whole time I run now. It feels better when I pick up speed, and I don’t have the stamina yet to maintain that faster pace for all 8 miles.

I do my best to act as if I’m hopeful: pushing myself to keep running past the point I want to give up, adding on miles with the Elliptigo, stretching and using the massage ball to keep the achilles happy. This feels important to me, to be able to run farther and faster, and I am aware that it is trivial. I read recently about a woman, 38 weeks pregnant, who finished a half marathon (her midwife running beside her) in under two hours. Shit. I read this and go into comparison mode, and comparison is the death of happiness.

At one point in that difficult run yesterday, I looked up. The cotton from the cottonwood trees was floating above me, dancing against a backdrop of brilliant turquoise sky and absolute white clouds. It was magical, and I thought, well, if I weren’t out here running, I would not have seen that. I remembered to feel blessed. 

Once I got home, I drank some water and talked with my daughter, who just got home on Monday night after nine months away at UCSC. She does not go back; she is stuck here in ABQ, stuck at UNM. She loves Santa Cruz, loves her friends there, her boyfriend there, the campus in the forest, the beach. The dry desert should no longer be her home. She could choose to be bereft and instead chooses to grieve and then -- keep busy. Our house is a wonder land - the punching bag, the jump rope, the Elliptigo set up on a trainer, the yoga swing -- all sorts of toys to keep up her mood and help her be distracted. 

After that long run, I maybe should have put my feet up but instead I went back out on the Elliptigo for another 30 minutes. It feels good to push myself, though the wind was fierce enough that I had some regrets. We feast on this work. We feast on pushing ourselves, sweating, going hard enough to feel just the right bit sore the next day.  We feast on the beauty of a blue sky, green tree, white cloud, and cotton flying from the trees.  We feast as if we’re hopeful. 

That section of my run, underneath the flying cotton, made me Queen of the Mountain for a kilometer, meaning I ran it faster than the other 6 women who use Strava and also have run that route. An email tells me this is so, though I have not been tracking it. Today, my achilles is not worse, and I feast on that, too, once again believing it’s possible that I can do this, that I will improve, that I can become stronger, that I can go faster, that this tendon can heal. It is easy, easier even, to despair when I am wounded. Like a baby, every twinge worries me -- what’s that? what’s happening to me? I need a distraction from my distractions. I desire to focus on something more important than myself. 

Part 2 In heaven, they feed each other

An hour or so after lunch yesterday, I was feeling odd, a little unsettled. I didn’t know if I needed more food or a rest. 

It turned out I needed to go to Target with my daughter and try on really bad swim suits and have fun doing nothing important. I feasted on our unimportant time together. 

We made dinner together once we got home. It’s not that it’s much quicker when two people prepare a meal together. It’s that much more fun. It feels easier and lighter. After a year away at UCSC, my daughter came home with a new found appreciation for onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini, and I feasted on that. 

This morning I strapped Tobey Jack to my chest while Diane snuggled Liv in a complicated, cozy wrap. We walked along the bosque trail, feasting on green trees and blue skies, nurtured by conversation rather than coos. When we got home, my daughter heard us talking and burst out of her room, eager to hug Diane and meet the twins. I feasted on that, too, and then watched her hold an infant for the first time. She even fed Liv her bottle while Tobey nursed. 

Liv defaults to happy. She smiles as she sleeps. She enjoys every stretch. She makes those satisfied groans as she nurses. Life is a sensuous experience for Olivia, and she is wholly unafraid of that.

Tobey defaults to wonder, and he looks slightly awed or slightly worried much of the time. He’s working really hard to figure it all out. His arms flail and he punches himself in the head, again. My daughter, holding him, exulted in his smiles; she said it’s like a reward and it’s been earned. What can I do to make Tobey Jack smile? It doesn’t take much actually. He loves to smile and to talk.

I asked Diane if she wanted me to fix her some lunch, though I wasn’t really going to let her say no. It was simple: beans and rice, avocado, kale, chard. I held Liv, Bon held Tobey, and Diane ate. I feasted on that. 

For three hours this morning, life was about keeping two 8 week old infants mostly happy. The only thing on my To Do list was getting a green meal into my friend Diane. 

You know that story, right, about the only difference between heaven and hell? In both places, there are huge feasts of food, tables laden with the most wonderful stuff, all of which must be eaten with a fork that’s several feet long. In hell, they go hungry, unable to manage the forks to feed themselves. In heaven, they have the same forks, and so with smiles and great pleasure, they feed each other. 

If you can’t quite muster the energy to take good care of yourself, find the person or being that needs your care and offer it. If you find yourself despairing or unhappy, feed someone else. This will shift you away from your own concerns, giving you sweet relief from whatever stories or difficulties may haunt you this week. When in doubt, nurture others. This will feed and nurture you.