Not too long ago I wrote about my journeys of this past spring in reconnecting with old friends. It's one that continues in earnest with a profound opportunity on the horizon in just about 3 weeks.
I've never attended any high school reunions. Nothing against the fine folks at Wooddale's Class of '82, but that was never home. Southside? Southside felt like home, but I've not really reconnected in any meaningful way with my classmates. Truth is, I ran with the older bunch. For the guys I hung out with back in the day it would have made more sense for me to be a part of the class of '79. To this day I'm not sure how or why I was welcomed into that bunch, but I'll be forever thankful for it. There's some stories that could be told of the exploits of our crew south of the Forked Deer River, but you ain't getting 'em out of me.
If there was a class that I would have longed to be part of, it's Mayfield's Class of '82. I've reflected on that period of life and how formative it was for me. In the past year or so, as I've moved from believing all that was is past, to something yet unknown and wonderful could emerge, I've enjoyed having the Mayfield chapter of my life refreshed by new engagements with childhood friends.
So imagine my curiosity/surprise to receive an invitation from Mayfield's Class of '82's 30 year reunion. You're kidding, right? I left there in the 6th grade. Really?
And yes, it is real. And yes, I'm going. It's even over my birthday, but I'm going. Would not miss it. Have no idea what to expect, and don't really care...that's huge movement for me.
Movement has been a key word for me in the last 18 months.
Tomorrow, June 26, marks the one year anniversary of my intentional, daily physical movement. I started walking.
I was just beginning vacation. It was a time of focus. Something on the outside needed to begin reflecting the stirrings on the inside. And so I started.
I went from "I've got to start walking," to "walking." For some of us, the gulf between the two is immense.
In the last couple of months I've been asked a lot of questions about what, how and why of this whole thing. I've never really addressed them in any real way, until now. Let me say, I do this not to inspire, but to explain. And as much as I offer some detail of the movement in me, there's much more I cannot speak to through this medium. This is not one of the "brag" testimonies. So help me, when I was at my worst, watching or reading any of them did not inspire. They pissed me off.
We all have to find our path. This one's mine.
First, I have no idea how much weight I've lost. I don't care. It was never about a number. I've had to buy new clothes, twice, so if numbers matter, there's something to go on.
Second, it is true, I walk every day. Every day. Every day. I've missed a handful of days (5) in the year. When that has occurred it's because I was traveling or some extraordinary circumstance. Why? My logic is this - I walk because I don't want to die, not yet anyway. And when I don't walk, I don't exercise, and the temptation to be sedentary whispers. The daily goal of the alcoholic is not to drink, today. That's a good day's work. The daily goal of someone like me is to walk, today. No need worrying about tomorrow's "oughts." I deal with the daily.
Starting is hell. It was tough. But my life was on the line. So I did it. Into the second week while still in Florida last Summer I rolled my ankle on a pine cone. I was so frightened that I had done myself in before I started. I missed a couple of days and kept on going. Took forever for my ankle to go down, but hey, I know me. If I give myself an excuse, I won't do it.
Man, my feet and legs hurt for months. But I could not stop.
How much? For most of the year, I walked no less that 4 miles/day. A couple of miles wasn't enough. It had to be something that demanded real time. I walked in the brutal heat, the pouring rain, snow/sleet (which was awesome). I usually walk at night, sometimes very late. If you're in my neighborhood between 10-11:30, you'll probably see me. At least I hope you do, I've had to go to reflective clothing so I'm easy to spot. In the last couple of months, I've stepped up to 6 miles/day. I've walked through three pair of walking shoes in one year. Right now, I'm a Brooks Ghost fan. Like that shoe.
I've never done anything like this before.
Do I feel pride in myself?
I look at the image in the mirror and I still have issues with him. Guess I always will.
Don't pat me on the back for discipline when desperation to not merely survive, but live - is the truer motivator.
Something walking has taught me...a simple lesson. When you walk, run, move...whatever it is you do, to do it means that by definition you are moving away from something and toward something else. Every step puts that much distance between the "you" you are, or were, and the you that's to be found ahead.
And maybe it's only now in my life that I could emerge and be what I'm called to be.
I've long thought the the insulation I carried was my version of a shield to protect what's out there from getting in. There may be some truth to that. You who know me know that I'm a good listener. I counsel well. I can be deep and insightful. But want to know what's going on in me? Not going to happen. Ain't nobody getting through...and with the rarest of exceptions (like one), nobody has.
But this past season has revealed something I least expected and the ramifications of it are at once liberating and frightening.
I've discovered that what I was doing was providing a barrier preventing who I am from being set loose out there.
It's easy to do. A life of complacency is easy to come by when occupied by life and all its entanglements.
If your rationale begins "for the good of"..and the next word is someone/something else that, while seeming to be noble brings you pain...you insulate yourself.
The job. The Church. The relationship. The family. The business. The reputation. If the "for the good of" mutes life's joy, what are you to do with that?
When am I going to stop? I stop. I die....physically, spiritually, and every other "ally" you can list. It's that simple.
How do I feel? Never like I've arrived. But I'm on the way. And I'm not sure where "there" is just yet. That has become so OK with me.
In my reflections in a recent post, I wrote, "... when you're lost in the wilderness, how do you even know where to begin to find your way out? Answer? You take a step.
Both literally and spiritually, you take a step.
And I've taken many in the past year, but not nearly as many as I've yet to take."
So there's my witness, such as it is at this point.
Lest you're tempted to ask "Who are you and what have you done with Johnny Jeffords?"
You'll find me on the road, earbuds cranked (I like the rock and roll), and moving somewhere between 4.3 - 4.6 mph.