I read once or maybe heard in a song, or maybe remembered in a dream, or maybe all three...the phrase...
You only live when you feel like you're dying.
And this has stuck with me.
I don't take the concept literally as when you're given a terminal diagnosis or the plane is going down, although, many people have shared those sentiments when they've been inches away from their own mortality.
No, for me, the words feel real when I think about the times that I'm most uncomfortable, hurting, unsure of how to get out from the rock...that unknown place where its raw, fragile, brittle, incomplete.
At least for me, that's when I've grown the most, carried the experiences with me viscerally to the point that I can recall the way something tasted, and felt with every fiber of my being that I was alive.
Last weekend, I went for a 9-mile run. It was one of the first sunshiny days in January and I felt compelled to bundle up and soak it in. Three miles into the journey, I hit a patch of black ice crossing a major thorough fare and watched myself go down. Bracing for the impact, I threw my hands in front of my body, twisted, and landed my weight on my right hand and right foot...all within an instant. It hurt and all I could think was...fuck.
I decided that if this was my last training run due to injury that I would run until I couldn't anymore hoping to complete the 9-miles. Ridiculous, I know. But in the grand scheme of wanting something, I didn't want black ice to stand in my way.
I ran the remainder feeling a sore foot, a bruised ego, and a fearful heart.
Over the course of my run, I gave pause and time to a few friends I've been praying for who are going through surreal, unbelievable, and painful times. And when the miles got hard, my breathing labored and I wanted to stop, I kept thinking of them, hoping for them, believing that through the pain, life would undoubtedly emerge....and with each mile, it all seemed to feel more hopeful.
And the fall and the phrase that I once heard or made up or something...helped to harness both the rawness and the richness of life that finds me frequently when I think I can't give anymore. And just when it felt like I couldn't make another lap around the bend, my heart took me where my feet didn't want to go and suddenly, a cold, sunshiny January day reminded me that I am alive and all is well.