“I have the same commitment everyday when I wake up – today I’m going to try my best, today I’m going to give it my all.”
--Dean Karnazes, ultra marathon runner
It is Friday again, and I just came back from a run around a park near my house. My legs got sore so I didn’t run as long as I would have liked. Still, it was good to see the cherry blossoms (picture above), which are in full bloom. Many people are walking around admiring them, some groups are picnicking and drinking under the trees, as Japanese have done for generations. There seems to be less people doing so than usual, in deference to the recent disaster, but people are still out and about.
I don’t feel great, but I am trying to do some simple things to keep my head above water. This week I went running three times, and I did a major spring clean. I threw out a bunch of junk that had been cluttering up my place for some time, and reorganized things. I have more space now, and I think having an organized place helps my state of mind.
In the midst of the spring clean I also pulled out my guitar. I bought an acoustic guitar years ago, before I came to Japan, and have attempted to learn how to play it on several occasions. I seem to find simple things very difficult to learn and remember, and this includes how to play music. On Wednesday I pulled out the guitar for the first time in a year and practiced some very simple exercises from the Mel Bay Grade 1 book. I told someone that I seem to pull out the guitar every year and realize that I don’t have guitar skills. He made the simple point that if I practiced every day, maybe I would realize that I did have guitar skills. I am only three days in at this point, but time will tell. Usually I get ashamed of my own inability to improve and give up.
While I was out running I was listening to the Radio National Breakfast podcast, and today’s included an interview with Dean Karnazes, an American runner who is running across the US. At the time of the interview he was in Missouri, heading for New York. He talked about how he took up running seriously because he was bored and in his regular life everything came easily to him, but he found an almost spiritual experience in his extreme runs.
As I, an Australian running under Tokyo’s cherry blossoms listened to him, an American charging across a entire continent, I thought about how different the two of us were. Unlike what Karnazes said about his own life, nothing seems to come easy to me. Every day is a struggle.
I’m not running because life is too simple and easy, but because for me it is too much to deal with. And some exercise, like therapy, medication, and other things, can help to take the edge off a little bit. I am very much a creature of habit, and I hope that by establishing better habits I can manage my condition a little better. I know this depression, this anxiety will never go away. It is part of me. But I need to learn to tame it, control it better. I hope I am on the way to doing that, I really do.
I am not capable of running across a continent. But I, like Karnazes, am capable of giving every day my all. And that's what I'm going to do.