Yesterday morning, for the 115th day in a row, I laced up my running shoes and dashed (in my own head) out the door for my routine morning run. Walking down the driveway, I did my hamstring stretches, reached the road and started running. As I ran down my street, I began my run how I always do – with the prayer “Lord, I give you this run, I give you this morning, I give you this day. Lord, I give you my heart.”
And then I don’t remember anything else. I mean, nothing, except having a sub-par run. It’s like it didn’t happen, except I know it did.
Generally, focus is something I’m good at while I run. It’s what keeps me running – on days that I can’t focus, I know I have a lousy run in front of me – and I can usually tell pretty quickly. But usually I can still work through some things on my mind and on my heart – be they family related, work related, friend related, etc. Running is my time for communing with my Creator, with the depths of myself, and with attempting to not get run over. Sometimes that order gets messed up.
But either way, yesterday, whoooo boy, the run wasn’t terrible, it was just sorta lousy – but moreso, I don’t remember a single thing I thought about or mentally wrestled with or prayed about throughout the run. It was as if my mind was just blank for that 60 minutes and 21 seconds. (Cue the joke: how is that different from normal for you, Joe?)
Some days, we just don’t have it at work. (Should I worry that this feels like the majority?) Some days we just don’t have it at home with our families. (My poor wife.) We’re just confused or distracted all day. We can’t really focus, we’re low on energy – there are different ways not “having it” can manifest itself, but I think you are all picking up what I’m laying down.
There are days that I’ll have been in my office, thinking I was doing work and when I go home at the end of the day my wife will ask what I did all day. And sometimes, I draw a blank. I won’t remember a single phone call or email or anything from the day. (Then I secretly wonder – did I seriously just stare at the wall all day?)
A few years back, I was talking with my spiritual director about sometimes just drawing a mental blank. Usually when we’re going through a day and we don’t “have it” we know that, just like I do when I’m not all locked in on my run. And we were talking about burnout, or just needing a small break, or how often I go on retreat – things like that. And then he stopped and said something along the lines of “You know, sometimes, we’re just not all there – and we’re just distracted or confused. And when that happens, we can’t just stop. We can’t run and hide. Life continues, and so we must. Sure, it’d be great to go on a retreat every month to avoid this, but that isn’t realistic for someone in your situation. Sometimes,” he told me, “you’ve just got to suit up and show up. Sometimes, just being there physically is all you’ve got. And you’re going to have to be ok with it. And everyone else is going to have to be ok with it.”
There are days we just don’t have all of our ducks in a row, that our energy is below the Mendoza line, or that every squirrel and shiny objects takes us away from what we’re trying to do. And sometimes, we’ve got to be ok with that. Sometimes, all we’ve got to offer is our presence.