Mike and I had planned our 13 mile run for this past Saturday morning. We have not had a healthy last 3 weeks, so we have to build our stamina and our mileage up slowly. We started our run out a little later than we should have. Translation: we didn't get our lazy butts out of bed early enough. We started around 7:30 am knowing that it was already 75 degrees outside and a hot and humid day was in the forecast. Fortunately, we had a nice sea breeze. We jogged around Siesta Key village and proceeded onto the other side of the island. Along the way we saw a fellow artist and we stopped and admired his work. It was at that point that we had plotted out a plan to make it through the rest of our grueling run. There is a pavilion with a rest area at our usual turn around (mile 10). There, we could fill up our water bottles with cool water and sit in the nice shade of the pavilion, fuel up with GU and stretch before running the last 3 miles back home. It was just the motivation we needed to get us to mile 10. So off we headed towards our destination. We arrived at the rest stop first and filled up our bottles, then turned and headed towards the pavilion for our break. To my dismay it was filled with people. "Crap!" I said to Mike, "What the heck are all these people doing at 'our' pavilion"? He informed me that it looked like a family reunion or a church meeting. I didn't care. I had made a plan and I was sticking to it. Those people were going to have to move over cause we were coming in! As we got closer to the area I thought to myself, 'It can't be a church meeting it has to be a family reunion because everyone was smoking and there was an ashtray on every table. Strange though, that everyone in that family smoked. We found us a table on the outer edge and faced outward so as not to intrude upon what was going on. It was then that I realized that not only did they smoke a lot, but they sure cussed a lot too. This definitely ruled out the church meeting. As we sat there drinking and getting out our GU, I couldn't help notice that the guy who was speaking was talking about God and how he is still learning to hand it all over and how hard it was not to try and take control. He was fighting the old ego constantly. He wanted to give up at times and just do things the way he wanted to, but then he thought back on his life and realized that doing things his way has gotten him where he is at today, which is no where.
This peaked my attention. Hmmm, what kind of meeting are we at? I turned around to face the people who were gathered there. They certainly weren't related. Black, white, Hispanic. All walks of economic status. One could have been a dentist, another a lawyer and yet another a homeless person. All ages too; ranging from their early 20's to their late 60's. Some were tatoo'd from head to toe, some dressed neatly, others not so.
When the person speaking finished talking everyone applauded. Then the next guy spoke. He said 'Hi, my name is (blank) and I am an addict'. To which everyone else said 'Hi (blank)'. He then went on to tell his story. By then, Mike had turned around and we were both immensely absorbed in what was being said and the insight being shared. It was like church, but with a lot of 'F' bombs. The personal demons that each of them were fighting was real. But the thing that was so inspirational about it was the fact that they had the courage to want to face their demon. By facing their demon, I really mean facing the darkness in their own soul. These people were not afraid to expose their weakness with this group of people who share their addiction, or with two strange sweaty people who happened to crash their party.
I couldn't help but admire their courage and strength. We ended up staying for the whole meeting. We watched one participant get his key chain for his first narcotic free week. We witnessed another get his key chain for being narcotic free for 5 years. Bravo! Wohoo! Everyone clapped and congratulated. We slipped away quietly after they formed their circle to pray. Mike and I jogged in silence for about a mile, then we walked and chatted the rest of the way back about our new experience. We left with a different mindset than the one we had arrived with.
Interesting, we all have our demons (our weakness's). Some have the courage to admit it, to face it, and take the next step, which is to try and change. We all fall down, the strength comes in getting back up and trying again. We all have something that is like a drug to us. Something that makes us feel better. Something that allows us to cope with stress and temporarily escape this thing we call life. There are the most commonly recognized such as alcohol and drugs. Yet, there are so many more things we use that are legal and unrecognized as an addiction like video games, music, food, sex, shopping and even spiritual seekers constantly looking for that certain word to make them feel better and goose bumpy all over. Please keep in mind that I am talking about an unhealthy balance in these areas. Other coping mechanisms seem healthy but can still end up being abused and becoming an addiction. This can be exercise like running or any sport that becomes an obsession to an extent that you have to have it at all costs and it interrupts your life and affects those around you in an unhealthy way. It is also easy to exchange one addiction for another; like trading the addiction to drugs for the addiction to gambling etc.
My point is this. I know that my addiction is endorphins. If I don't have it, I get a bit grouchy. If I go too long without running, I have withdrawals and might even drop a few "F" bombs myself. I always need to keep in mind that balance is the key. Running is good for me. I don't think I have to worry about it getting out of control for I am too lazy for that. But I must always keep in mind that things can get out of control and that being 'aware' is key to balance. We all need the courage to face ourself and our own weaknesses. Any decision to change is like the beginning of a marathon. When I started running, I joined a group of like minded people. We had a common goal; to finish a marathon. In all areas of life, being part of a group gives us a source of encouragement when we feel like quiting. It helps us maintain accountability with someone who is headed for the same destination, and gives us a source for strength. Achieving that long sought after goal, aka, Crossing the finish line, (as long as you don't snort it), is like no high that a drug could ever give you!!
Never give up!!