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So Far To Go: why minute 2, mile 2, and month 2 feel the longest.

I guess I know as much as the next person about meditation. Maybe I know more, since regular prayer is a part of my Christian practice. Doesn’t everyone kind of know what meditation is? But I had zero actual experience with it. A wise woman I admire told me that a type of meditation called “centering prayer” is something she does every single day, and what a help it had been to her throughout her life. She recommended that I start with 10 minutes, even though her practice is regularly 60–90 minutes. I’m a beginning mystic, alright?

Let me be clear, I haven’t gotten past 10 minutes yet. That’s enough for me. I start out reticent and awkward, settling my sit bones down on my yoga mat on the floor of my bedroom, anxiously setting my phone timer for 10 minutes and turning the ringer onto vibrate so I’m not interrupted by notifications. I close my eyes and rest my hands palms-up on my knees, and begin to breathe in and out deeply and intentionally. Minute 1 isn’t so bad; it’s really just starting that’s the obstacle to get past initially. But then right around minute two, my mind starts to wander, and I wonder if I should just mentally count down the seconds until it’s over. Or maybe I should quit and try another time when I’m not so distracted. I’m only two minutes in, there’s still so far to go in this painfully empty silence.

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Running and I are getting better acquainted. It’s possible I will never feel like “a runner” — maybe some of us just aren’t born for it. But damn it, am I going to try and make it a real habit. In fact, my goal is to keep running several times each week until I start enjoying it. Hasn’t happened yet.

I usually run a little over 3 miles, that’s the distance around the Rose Bowl and back to the place I park my car, outside the Aquatics Center.

When I start jogging, I have excitement and a little pride in the form of adrenaline, and the energy for the running feels natural. It’s right around the turn into mile 2 when that natural energy has worn off, and I start to question why in the world I’m doing this. I thought getting started was supposed to be the hardest part.

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Now breakups? These are my area of expertise. Specifically, breaking up after a long-term, serious relationship and needing to keep a good face on for the rubberneckers. Especially now.

This most recent heartbreak was the least surprising, the least confusing, and yet somehow the most sad. Making the decision to part ways was difficult, and in the first few weeks, the denial is pretty strong, as is the instinct for coping.

It’s right around week 5, entering into month 2, when the shit hits the fan emotionally. That’s when the sting has worn off enough to realize that this aloneness is the new normal, and that all those comforts that were present before are moving further and further away into your rearview mirror.

Month two is when people stop being sensitive around you when it comes to talking about dates and engagements, and when friends aren’t as interested in hearing me tell the story of our first date any more.

Month two is when it gets real, and you realize there’s so far to go before this pain is behind you.

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What do you do when you hit that moment?

That’s really what defines me, right? It’s not about running into the obstacles, it’s about what I do when I get to them. And this season is about saying “Yes” to growth and moving forward, even though I’m certain I don’t have the patience/energy/courage/emotional strength to do it.

It’s moving forward without guarantees, hoping that is what progress is made of.

So I keep breathing, staying quiet and present in the silence, knowing the timer will sound.

I keep jogging, putting one foot in front of the other, knowing the end of the loop will come.

I keep going, gentle on the sad days and purposeful on the happy ones, knowing that the future is uncertain, but I will not always feel like this. The day will come that this pain is in the past.