The end of the year can often be a time of reflection. Many of us ponder what life lessons we have learned over the past twelve months and, although I don’t usually spend more than a few minutes thinking about such things, I thought I would sit down as the freshly fallen snow weighed down the cedar trees outside the window and the gentle light of a beeswax candle spread itself out like butter on freshly baked bread across my desk. I took a sip of coffee and thought of three life lessons, and then I smiled and wondered if I have truly learned these lessons or if I will make the same mistakes all over again in the coming year.
Lesson 1: I am approaching forty, and no longer a teenager. This means I can no longer leap over narrow rivers and expect to land gracefully on the other side. Just because my friend’s gazelle-like nineteen-year son can launch himself off the muddy bank and make a perfect arch over the river before a glorious landing with both feet on terra firma, doesn’t mean I can expect to do the same shortly after. But I tried anyway. And instead of making a perfect arch over the river, I made a perfect arch into the river. Had I taken a moment to think about physics or biology, I would have realized that this was a bad idea. But I didn’t. I sprinted as fast I could and jumped with all my might, hoping I could defy gravity. I landed on a wet boulder halfway across the river, pulling my calf muscle. I hobbled out and couldn’t walk properly for weeks.
Lesson 2: Eating spicy Indian food after a long run is not a good idea. I eat too quickly at the best of times, but after a long run I tend to devour food like a half-crazed wildebeest. This may be socially acceptable at home when no one is looking, but not at a restaurant. What makes it worse is that when I eat spicy food too quickly my body protests with really loud hiccups. The hiccups are so loud they echo off the walls of the restaurant and the other patrons usually stand up and look around, curious as what weird sounds are disturbing their dinner. I often stand up as well and look around, pretending I have no idea where the strange sounds are coming from. But I never get away with it. Standing up just makes it worse.
Lesson 3: Running on a treadmill at the local gym is not the same as running in West Creston with no one around. While I can sing loudly (and out of tune) to the chorus of my favourite running songs while in the woods to scare off bears and other woodland creatures, I have to remind myself not to fall into the habit when I am with other people at the gym. I have to remember to mouth the words instead, and only when no one is looking. It might be okay if I sang classic hits appropriate for my age, but the best running songs are silly pop songs that are more appropriate for twelve-year girls. When I leave the gym I always wonder if maybe I was singing instead of mouthing the words and I look around to see if anyone is laughing at me.