A New Season

Something changes when you become a writer.

Time slows.

You begin to savor the tiniest experiences.

You breathe in the details and your mind races for the perfect descriptions to relive them through written word.

Simplicities become complexities, yet somehow, everything seems simpler.

Spring is breaking, and it’s a perfect day for a run on the track outside the college
where I work.

I’m completely alone, with no noise but the rustling trees among distant creaks and
bellows of construction equipment. The bite of the hot sun on my forehead is tempered
by the stubborn breeze.

The track ahead is wide and striped, inviting me in like a blank sheet of notepad paper
awaiting a story.

What will the words be today?

There’s no feeling quite like the moments just before that first stride, especially in
solitude. But am I ready? It’s been so long.

I stare down the center lane of the track to where the lines converge and disappear
around the first bend.

It seems so far away.

“4 laps.”
The Mom in me urges in one ear.
“Just 4 laps is a mile—you can handle that.”

“No.”
The Writer in me argues back.
“Just one lap. Just do one lap and see how it goes. Just take it one step at a time.”

I’m nowhere near the athlete I was before my daughter was born.

It was always my intention to maintain it as much as I could, throughout pregnancy and
after she was born. Not being a very emotionally resilient person, I’ve always defined my personal strength by my physical strength—logic being that if I can’t carry the weight of life with a strong heart, I’ll do it with strong arms and physical endurance. But new priorities yield new bodies, and now it seems I can barely make it up the stairs without feeling winded.

I start down the track at a light jog, and pin my eyes to the rows of pines on the horizon
instead of the next distance marker painted on the brick-red path.

Last year, I may have picked up speed and tried to beat a time.
Today, I pace myself, allowing the wind to fill my lungs with every intentional breath.

Last year, I’d have stayed tight and narrow between the lines.
Today, I waver back and forth across lanes, focused more on relaxing my shoulders
than the placement of each foot.

I don’t want this uninhibited moment to become a chore.
I won’t push myself or chide myself, for once.
I’ll move my body because it feels right, not because I have something to prove.
Today, I want to slow time; to bottle up every intricate detail of this moment so I can
hold this story.

The pounding of my shoes on the hard rubber drowns out the sound of far off voices
and singing birds. I can feel my heartbeat rising and I’m tempted to increase my pace
in tandem, but my chest feels heavy and burdened.

Running is a stranger to me now.

It feels choppy and a little forced—so much different than the smooth glide of my pen
on paper that I’ve come of relish.

I slow my pace to a fast walk rounding the fourth bend, and come to a stop at my
starting place.

I think that’s enough for today.

The track surface is warm and grainy as I lower myself down to my back. I tuck my
hands tightly to my sides and stretch out, perfectly centered between the middle lane
markers, gazing up at the unobstructed sky. Wiry clouds streak across the vast blue
canvas like cotton stretched on a loom. A blissful end to this chapter.

Something changes when you become a mother.

Time quickens.

And the desire to slow it down alters perspectives beyond measure.

I’m not the same person I was before motherhood.
Not physically. Not mentally. Not emotionally.

In this new season I no longer feel controlled by my limitations. I know what my body can do. I’ve seen what my spirit can conquer. Any strength that left my muscles has infiltrated and reenforced my mind. Though my lung capacity has waned, my heart is overflowing with love.

In these poetic complexities—this is where my time slows.

In embracing new gifts—this is where everything feels simpler.

And in this new season, my life is full.

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