Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Obedient Runner

Obedience is overrated. 

Regardless, I’ve spent time on those tracks.  It’s really easy to be obedient, you just have to like being on rails.  There’s no room to change your mind, because you cannot turn a train unless the track turns first.  As I said, its easy.

I was that girl. The one you look at and wonder why she would ever be content as a doormat. I liked to imagine I would have been a very pretty doormat with a screen print of a pitcher of Tea and Two lemons on it, and a clever little saying like, “When life hands you lemons…. Squeeze one into a glass of iced tea and thank God you’re a southern girl”. I valued myself as something pretty to look at in passing, but forgotten after the moment is passed.

Even though I was raised to be a strong independent woman, I fell into a habit of being someone else’s ornament. 

Ornaments have no purpose except to be looked upon and admired.  They’re hollow inside so they have no feelings that need regarding, and their importance is only as deep as the memories you associate with them.  They have no opinion on where you display them; they simply hang from a thread wound through a hook. Their entire existence is dependent on the idea that the thread will hold, and that the hook won’t slide off a branch on the tree that shelters them.

The obedient wife attends community meetings and volunteers on committees of her husband’s choosing.  This type of ornament knows exactly how much to take on so she does not over-shadow her hard working spouse. She attends her husband’s work functions, dressed in shoes that pinch, with a false layer of paint smeared across her closed mouth in an effort to be ideal.  Her purpose is not to be brilliant, or to contribute depth to a conversation but simply to be funny enough to be entertaining, and smart enough to follow along.

As soon as she is neither of those things, she is no longer useful, and she lives in fear of being cast aside in favor of a shinier ornament. 

Sometimes, after babies get their hands on them, ornaments get a little sticky.  For the purpose of prettiness, sticky is complicated.  It’s tough to rub the sticky fingerprints off of the thin shell without damaging the beauty or leaving the residue from the dusting cloth. 

Ornaments are tough to polish without changing the finish.

And so the obedient ornament had to find a radical new way to clean the outer most layers. The ornamental usefulness was only as good as the “pretty”, and the ornament was definitely looking a bit worn and dust covered; it wasn’t pretty in that condition.  To restore its usefulness it needed something and it needed something drastic.  Something like running.

Of course, who knew that running and I were such a destructive force?

With every run my ornamental shell became stronger, but different.  The shape changed, until one day, the hook was superfluous.  The ornament no longer needed the branch to hold itself up.

My muscles grew stronger, and their strength influenced my will.  A deep understanding of what I was capable of began to grow within me.  This new understanding grew until it filled the hollow space.  This visceral strength came from knowing I owned my own destiny.  If I wanted to run a mile, nothing could stop me, except me. I knew that I could run any distance I wanted with training.  I had proved it. 

I no longer wanted to volunteer on committees to please my spouse.  I wanted to volunteer at my own events, and on my own committees.  I had my own functions to attend, at which I was valued as an interesting and entertaining contributor.  My thoughts and opinions mattered, and were viewed with respect and authority.

If I could go back and tell myself not to lace on the Brooks, would I do it?  No.  Even though it ultimately changed my life in a catastrophic way, I cannot look back. 

Running and I are soul mates, and it was worth it. I would never give up the joy and release that running brings for the temporary peace found in obedience. 

~savor the run~


bobbi said...

I love you. That is all.

carrie said...

Well said.

Earth Momma Mer said...

Wow. Just wow. Unbelievable writing. Deep meaning. Amazing woman! IT must have felt good to write this one. Hugs, Mer

Melissa Cunningham said...

thank you so much for sharing!!!
love it!

Michelle said...

Wow. So deep, I am speechless and haunted. So sad that your passions couldn't be embraced. But, in the are better for it. You are so much more than an ornament. Proud of you.

Nicole Orriëns said...

Sounds liberating!