Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Hips Don't Lie

Marathons are glorious. Really, I'm not just crazy. I love absolutely
everything about them. Well, except maybe the excruciating pain my hips feel
for about three days afterward. Shakira is right, your hips don't lie.

I just love the anticipation of running the grueling 26.2 miles. The
exhilaration of standing at the start. The camaraderie of the thousands
of runners around me, all of them every bit as crazy as me. The happy
spectators cheering and clapping loudly for everyone. The dead sprint
to the end. It's such a feeling of accomplishment. You can't beat it.

For as much training as I did for this marathon, I was quite pleased with how
I did. I found a pace group and I stuck with the man waving his yellow balloons
and his slew of sweaty disciples until mile 19. And then an ugly wall hit me.

Everything seemed to be draining from me. My high, my adrenaline. I couldn't
see my group anymore. Tears filled my eyes. My foot was still bleeding.
My Ipod was still on the fritz.
All I could think was: "I'm not going to make it."

It was then that a friendly man on the sidelines looked directly at me and
said, "828, you're doing great! You're so close!"

I clenched my jaw and nodded my head. It was too hard to speak at this point, so
I simply picked my feet back up to show my kind onlooker that I wasn't dead yet.
He's right. It's so close.

For the next few miles, it hurt. I couldn't think of anything BUT the pain. I wanted
to quit. I wanted to collapse in the middle of the pavement. I wanted my mommy.
But somehow I was still running, somehow I was still standing.

Rounding the corner, I saw it.
The 25 mile marker. It's almost here. I can taste the end, or maybe that was
just the salt that had been crusted on my face for the past two hours.
Whatever it was, it tasted wonderful.

I looked to my left and saw a happy, large man holding a sign that said,
"26.2 is a bitch!" An elderly woman next to him gripped a yellow poster
that emphatically stated,"Toenails are overrated."
I smiled. They're so right.

Somehow I mustered the strength to start running fast.
I could see the finish line now and all I could do is run. Run like I stole something.
Run like my life depended on it. Run like the wind.

I heard people (Grahm, my parents, and high school principal) yell my name.
I heard the announcer say "828 - Jena Carper."
But all I could see was the big, fat, glorious FINISH sign.

Somehow, I made it. Four hours and thirteen minutes later, it was all over.
The unlucky volunteer who happened to be standing a few feet behind
the finish was bombarded as I collapsed into his arms, crying like a little girl.
"It's over! It's over!" I said. He patted my back. Poor guy. My apologies
whoever you are.

Now that my body is starting to recover, I'm eager to start marathon
number three.
Call me crazy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An Already Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Life is one of my favorite movies. Mostly because George

Bailey and I aren't so different. Neither of us realize the goodness, the
wonderfulness, if you will, of our lives. We go about our days with no real
rhyme or reason. We smile occasionally, laugh every once and a while... but
for the most part we simply do. We are duty bound. Obligation keeps him in
his small town, stuck in a boring office at a dinky bank because he doesn't
want to see the place his father built destroyed. His life of adventure and travel
is put on hold... indefinitely. But for a while, it seems okay.
He has a wife, whom he loves. Children who adore him. A town that depends
him. A seemingly adequate life. For all intents and purposes, George Bailey
should be happy. Nothing is really wrong.

And then it happens. Uncle Billy loses the bank's deposit and Mr. Potter takes
full advantage of his mishap. The people begin to panic. The town is in
mayhem. And George thinks the only way to end it all is to end himself.

Enter Clarence.
His guardian angel, the one who would completely change George's
perspective on his already wonderful life. If you think about it, nothing
really changes for George. True, the bank does get out of some serious trouble
and he no longer has to go to jail. But for the majority, his life remains the
same. He is stuck in the same old town with his family. The exciting life he
has always dreamed about is still sitting on the shelf.
But now George is happy because he GETS IT.

As Clarence says, "You see George, you've really had a wonderful life. Don't
you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?"

I had one of those moments yesterday, a George Bailey moment.
My boss praised my work thus far in my internship and said some nice things
about me and it got me to thinking...

For the last few weeks I had been complaining and longing for the day this
internship would finally END so I wouldn't have to continually drop cash I
don't have to drive to a town I don't like to edit song lyrics that aren't even
good to begin with... I was sour and bitter because I thought I wasn't being
taken seriously and well, I was over it.

But I was. I am. My boss noticed me. He saw the hard work, the effort I have
been putting forth the past four months and I impressed him.

It's funny how the little things in life end up being the parts of your day that
REALLY matter.In the grand scheme of things, Curtis telling me that he was
impressed by my work ethic and would like to give me a job after I graduate
may not be like that big of a deal.

But, like George Bailey, my perspective got changed.
I still spend too much money on gas, I still edit some interesting pieces.
BUT now I appreciate it that much more.
For a few minutes, Curtis was inadvertently my Clarence.

So the storal of the mory (as Mr. Madden used to say) is..
Next time you get bored, or stuck, or just plain ol' apathetic,
try changing your perspective and realize that life already is wonderful, you
just haven't realized it yet.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pleasure in the Present

Do ever feel like you're living your life in slow motion? No matter what you do, you can't seem to speed things up a little? It's not that you want your days to zip on past you, but you're just a little bit tired of them always
being so mind-numbingly sluggish.

Do you ever feel like your life won't slow down? You can't seem to ever find a moment to simply step back and breathe. It's all one big, scary blur and you're starting to feel a little lost in the whirlwind.

I'm caught in between.
I realize that may sound like an oxymoron. How can your life be racing past you, yet simultaneously creeping along like the tiny old grandma who somehow always ends up in front of you on the highway?
I catch myself having nostalgic moments at the most random times.
I was walking on campus yesterday and there was something about how
brilliantly the sun was shining, how busy the campus was, and how
happy everyone seemed...
It made my heart ache knowing college is almost up for me. 17 hours.
That's all that's left for me. How crazy!
What's even more crazy is having zero idea where I will be a year from
now. I just want things to sloooow down for a while.

On the other hand, I find myself consistently praying that I can make
it through the week. Whenever Evan yells at me for making him play
piano, or I get bored copyediting lyrics, or I miss Grahm so much it
hurts, I pray that my days will zip right on by. I keep staring at the
clock. The stupid tick tock toys with me as time slinks on by. I can't
help but wish it was tomorrow, or next week, or summer, or
graduation, or my wedding. And so on and so on.

Neither one of these mentalities are beneficial. Neither are satisfying.
On the one hand, you never want to experience anything other than
your current routine. On the other, you want to experience
anything BUT your present situation.

These perspectives make us miss things, BIG things. Our most satisfying
moments are the daily make up of our lives. Do you really want to miss it
because your attention was elsewhere?

Well, I sure don't.

I want to find pleasure in my present, a true contentment in my
day to day. I don't want to be constantly looking forward to the next
"best" thing, nor do I wish to be fixated with my rearview mirror, only
remembering everything how it once was.

I want to learn to be still, content.