My own personal road to perdition is lined with understatement, delusion, lies, ghosts, and prayers and sometimes, at 3:00 AM, the women who forgave my atrocities with a “well we’re past all that now and besides it wasn’t all all that bad,” show up in fragmentary images of destruction and renewal. So I need to stop apologizing, get back on my feet, get my sorry ass into the “right now” and keep on keeping on the way I am. I’m still here, you bastards (me, my addictions), you didn’t kill me… and I ain’t quit.
From a very different perspective, Yogi Berra once said “ when you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Well, okay then. Best thing I did today was to call my daughter who has upper respiratory misery. All a guy can do is stay in the game. Back to Yogi, Tarmac Meditations started out as a bunch of short pieces about me running and thinking about stuff. It changed into an umbrella for whatever I was writing at the moment, usually something about a moment in my past, an effort to explore my own voice and style as a writer or more accurately as a person/writer in recovery. Along the way I became an OK sports/ landscape photographer. The not so subtle fork in the road had showed up. But “Life” had it’s own plans for me in the form of several strokes and some seriously debilitating illness. I lost nearly all of my physicality, half of my vision and a lot of the fine motor control it takes to type. What to do and how to do it?
Just taking “it”, as Yogi suggested, looks like a potpourri of slow walking, light lifting, much complaining and some serious attention to good practices in handling my recovery. The physical deficits were bedeviling my ongoing efforts to shoot and write, let alone just getting to the store. Sounds awful when I read that last sentence back to myself. But it wasn’t awful at its heart, it was just hard. The long-distance runner I used to be employed all the tricks of the trade. The mental con games, the search for ways to push without causing more damage (gently) the use of “pacing” and “partitioning”, known more simply as going slower and taking breaks and REST. So here I am, healthier, stronger, older, humbled and looking for a new beginning.
It may be that the fork in the road is all in the mind and the person who lives inside our hearts and souls will make the effort to let clarity happen. Also known as “being here now”. I am still running (walking every now and then, lifting and shooting). I am slowly getting back to the world in the ways I know, having learned the most important lessons of my life. Letting go does NOT mean giving up. It means more precisely that the long distance runner in me has come to know how best to let the “run” come to him on the day; and whatever the results, pretty, ugly, awful or so-so that there are some days when “it” all comes together, as if in a dream. Those remarkable moments when the “flow” of a perfect turn in the deep powder, or a back-lit miler’s stride is embraced once again, if only briefly.
I don’t need more than that to know that keeping on is my only choice. That the shooting and the writing will be here so long as I am willing to use what I have learned from not running and make it part of my new life as I go forward, slower, humbled, open minded and grateful for the opportunity to make the miles ahead my own.
Photos by Michael Lebowitz – All rights reserved.