One part of running I enjoy is the time I have to think about life. In the past, I have solved many problems while conducting “Road Therapy.” Today was no exception.
Gratefulness. Lately, I have been feeling down about all the changes in my life. A year ago, I was training for a marathon, working full-time, drilling in the Reserves, and was satisfied with my life. Then, in less than a second, my life changed, perhaps forever. Since my TBI, my perspective in life has changed. I “lost,” at least temporarily, many of the activities I enjoyed. Running is no longer simple. What used to be easy is now hard. Life is so fragile and I often took for granted what I had.
I have many reasons to be grateful. I have a loving, supportive family. My friends and co-workers are supportive. I can run. The meaning of running has changed. I am no longer bound to the Garmin and the “need” to run a certain distance at a given pace. Running now is about enjoyment. I love the feeling of improving my fitness and the runner’s high. The accident was severe and I easily could have died. I am alive. My life has meaning. Even my head injury could have been much worse. I am still able to participate in activities and am slowly returning to work. Many of my fellow TBI survivors have many more challenges. I discovered a FB page for Brain Injury Association of America. I have “met” several survivors and family members there. They are a great group of people. I learned that my sleep and vestibular issues are common for TBI. I feel less alone and more connected.
As I move through life, I notice more. After my run today, I laid in bed and listened to a rain storm. Brigid was cuddled up next to me. It was a peaceful, simple, moment. When I ran errands later, I smelled the freshness of the rain. Trees are budding and some flowers are poking their heads up.
I practiced mindfulness meditation before the injury. I wasn’t dedicated to the discipline. Mindfulness is more important to me now. Living in the moment is vital, yet difficult. It is easy to move ‘forward’ in time and worry about the future. Will I recover enough to return to work full-time? Will I ever run a marathon again? What if my balance issues and sensory sensitivity are permanent? I have no control over the future. My power is in the present moment. In this moment, I can make change. I can embrace life. ‘What if’ are two dangerous words. What if I never was injured? Why did this happen to me? These are normal questions but they take energy away from the present. I can’t change the past. Acceptance. I may not like what happened but accepting that it has allows me to move forward.
Today’s run was incredible. There are baby goats on a farm nearby. They are adorable. The older goats are great climbers. I noticed several in a tree as I ran. The temperature was in the upper 50s. It was overcast but no rain. I smelled the coming of the rain and felt the breeze on my face. It was a thoughtful but peaceful run.
My lessons today were gratefulness and not to take life for granted.