“Your story isn’t calm. The road has been chaotic at times, filled with detours and rain and loss so sudden and soon. Sometimes, the bliss was so elevated your heart could hardly hold it. Sometimes it was maddening to have, and then to lose. You learn soon enough that it hardly ever goes as planned — gentle, easy, and smooth. But that, my friend, is what makes you fascinating. You have something to tell. Something you’ve walked through. Something wild. Something courageous. Something true. You’re made of stories within even more stories. Those quiet depths of you.

-V. Erickson

The early morning trudge up the hill for the running portion of the workout seemed to have only one fan: me. I’m not particularly strong, nor am I particularly fast, but I enjoy the running portions, because for the briefest of moments, you get away from the thumpa-thump music inside the gym, the clatter of iron goes quiet, and you get a chance to stretch those legs out momentarily. So, as I grin idiotically at my classmates on the other side of the loop, their faces contorted in frustration, I noticed one in particular. She’s been at the gym for a relatively short period of time, she isn’t in decent shape and she is in a full grimace mode; my heart swells with admiration for her at the sight, and here’s why: she’s embracing the spirit of grit beyond the first day, first week, first chance. You know, that period when the adrenaline still flows and your attitude is still one of can-do, because it’s all new, and you’re swept up in the moment. Be it a first date or two, the first week on a new job or the first week of trying to learn how to play the bagpipes, the venue doesn’t matter. It’s what we do on week three or date four or when our neighbors beg us to, for the love of all things unholy, to just give the hell up on the pipes.

“And this ain’t no place for the weary kind/
This ain’t no place to lose your mind/
This ain’t no place to fall behind/
Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try”

-Ryan Bingham “The Weary Kind”

We are given each of us, a chance for a second chapter in this world. The number of people in my world on their second marriages, third career shifts, or fourth time dropping or gaining fifty pounds far outweigh those who get it just right on the first go around. And what a beautiful thing, this opportunity to get back into a groove of life that allows us to shine again, to chase our passion, to right the wrongs we may have visited upon one another or to just be able to discover who we really are, deep down.

The challenge seems to lie within how we react to what happens when we leap off that cliff. To choose to do that is weighty enough, but even more daunting can be figuring how to swim in the wild swell of the sea once we hit the water. If anything has become more clear with the opening of the door into my forties, it is the very importance of being able to stop punishing myself daily for past chapters. Pay your penance, learn your lesson, FORGIVE yourself and open your heart and mind to a fresh perspective. To stay mired in our past only hastens the march to a lonely grave, and there is so much good out there, so many who can use your smile, your encouragement, your compassionate heart that it is damn near a crime to deny your gifts, whatever they may be, to this world. We were born to shine, all of us.

And? That road can be a tough sonofabitch to travel down at times. We aren’t guaranteed that these next chapters are going to be easy, fun or simple. We only have ourselves to turn to, to decide to try and smile again, to give someone a chance or to risk a new career; for in those lonely and dark moments our minds can choose that survival alone isn’t an option….we were made to fly, to love, to create and to live with purpose a little longer here.

So as I watched her, long past her first week as a gym member and no doubt many, many miles from from reaching her goals, struggling to get up that hill, my own sense of purpose was renewed silently, while my mouth shouted out an unintelligible stream of exhausted encouragement over my own violently heaving lungs. She showed that very determination and grit that embodies the very best of the human spirit. Unknowingly, her own struggle was giving inspiration to fools like me, trying to smile in the face of the wild and untamed seas.

What a blessing, indeed.


*watch it here: Ryan Bingham “The Weary Kind”