It always seems impossible until it’s done

Today I find myself in the enviable position of being alone, which is a rare occasion for me.  Both kids went to pre-school today, and wifey is working.  What have I done with this precious alone time?  I ran 10k this morning… this hot and humid New England morning… and I did it for fun.

I passed a guy on my run this morning.  I had never met him before, but I knew him well.  He was really overweight, gut hanging over his belt line and out of his shirt.  His jogging pace was about the pace of my brisk walk.  Sweat poured down the sides of his face, which was beet red to match his shirt.  His breath came in wheezy gasps.

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Me, about 5 years and 100 lbs ago.

Oh ya, I knew this guy.  I was that guy five years ago.

I said a chipper, “Good morning,” and waved as I do with everyone I see when heading out on a run.  Staring down at the ground, he grunted, and I trotted past him and along my way.

I thought of a quote I read on a roadside sign yesterday, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

I’m going to tell you a very small part of a long story.  It’s a story I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone in it’s entirety.  Five years ago, my wife was six months pregnant with our first child, and I had the realization that I’m not just going to be a dad.  I’m going to be the fat dad.  At just shy of 300 pounds, I needed to take a break after 20 minutes of mowing the lawn.  It was an effort to climb a flight of stairs, and I would be out of breath by the time I got to the top.

I had been a fat guy for my entire adult life to that point, it was nothing new.  Sure, I’d lost a few pounds now and then – most notably for my wedding – only to gain it back with interest.

I looked in the mirror one day and said, this will not be the example that my son follows.  He will not be the kid who gets made fun of for having a fat daddy.  I want to run around with him on a soccer field.  I want to be there for him as long as I can.  But every time I sit down to eat a bacon double cheeseburger I wonder, Will this be the meal where I leave on a stretcher after my first heart attack?

I had to make a change, so I decided that day to go for a jog.  “I’ll go a mile,” I said to myself.  I can do that.

Gasping for air, legs on fire, heart in my throat, I all but collapsed onto the curb.

I looked behind me.  I had gone maybe 500 feet.  Not even the length of two football fields.  This is impossible.

I had, to that point, spent my whole life being told that I could not be too active because I have exercise induced asthma.  It was easy to buy into this, given that sitting on the couch with a box of Cheez-its is much easier than exercising.  The easy decision that day would have been to turn around, walk home, order a pizza and fire up the XBox.  But something made me look ahead.

I got up off the curb and started walking, not towards home, but away.  “I’m doing this mile.”

I walked, I jogged, I sat on the side of the street more than once trying not to throw up, but forty minutes later I had done my mile.  I paid for it, for days, but I did it.  That was 5 years ago, almost to the day.

Getting back to my run this morning, finishing my 10k loop, I passed the guy again.  He was struggling, but still at it.  Again, as I do with everyone I pass on the way back in from a run, I waved and said, “Have a good one.”

He didn’t stare down at the ground and grunt this time.  He looked up and smiled, and gave me a thumbs up.  I said, “Alright!” gave him a nod, and continued on.

I finished my run and checked my time, an average 10:16 per mile.  Not my best 10k time, but pretty good for such a hot and humid day.  I thought about how far I have come since my first try at a jog.  There’s obviously a ton that’s happened between that day and this morning, and I’ll write about it at some point, but having seen myself 5 years ago, and then looking at where I am today, that road side quote came back to me again:

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  

Isn’t that the truth.

I’m Dave, a novelist, Mr. Mom, husband, son, office worker, and guy who has struggled with weight for 20 years.  If you like what you read, go ahead and use the links on the right over there to follow me on Facebook or Twitter, and drop me a line!  I love hearing from readers.  Hope you enjoy, and happy reading!

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The Secret of Life is enjoying the passage of time.

The lyric goes, “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.  Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it” Oh James Taylor, you’re so smart… if only it were that easy though!

As my two boys are getting bigger and developing more personality, one thing stands out to me: they love living life.  They’re such happy little guys.  Sure, they don’t have two kids, a mortgage, a couple of jobs, and other responsibilities and stresses to bring them down.  What’s not to enjoy?

I think it’s bigger than that though… or maybe more simple… either way, James Taylor has got it right.  Their secret is that they simply enjoy the passage of time.  They’re able to live in the moment without worrying about what happened yesterday, what’s happening later today, and what’s going to happen tomorrow.

I think it also helps that they generally have no concept of time.  I remember the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever taken.  Me and a buddy took the camper to the beach for a week.  When we arrived we took off our watches, and being 15+ years ago, we had no cell phones or any other way to track the time.  We spent the entire week not knowing or caring what time it was, or having to worry about being any place at any certain time.  We woke when we woke, ate when we ate, and slept when we slept.  We simply enjoyed the passage of time, and it was probably the most relaxed I’ve been in my adult life. 

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My buddy Rob, myself, and the Free Spirit Cub camper on the most relaxing vacation of my life

Certainly it’s unrealistic to think that I could live my life that way.  When I’m at work there are often times when I’m in and out of various meetings for hours at a time.  Without paying attention to the time, I would be doing quite a disservice to the folks I work with.  When I’m taking care of the boys during the day, I do need to keep an eye toward naptime, and lunch time, or I would pay the consequences, don’t I?  But maybe I can find moments during the day to simply enjoy the passage of time like my kids.
On shifts where I don’t have meetings or other obligations, I could avoid looking at the clock.  It’s not like the end of the night is going to come and go and I’ll forget to go home.  Eventually everyone will be leaving and maintenance will come around with the vacuum.  On days where the boys and I are just hanging out at the house, I’ll avoid checking the clock every twenty minutes.  It’s not like I’ll miss the tell tale signals that they’re starting to get hungry for lunch, and sleepy for nap.

I think this is a case of something that our kids can teach us, instead of the other way around.  I’m not saying to amble through life like a three year old.  That would be irresponsible.

Sure my toddler may throw a fit if it’s nap time and he doesn’t want to take a nap, but he doesn’t let the anticipation of it ruin his morning.  Likewise, once he realizes his nap is an inevitability, he calms down and gets over it.  He lives in the moment, enjoys the good times, and deals with the bad times when they come along.  God bless him, I wish it came to me that easy.

So try to learn a lesson from your kids, and James Taylor, and just enjoy the passage of time.

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