The Pinch Point

Posted on Posted in Reflections on Life

I don’t run, usually. Occasionally, though, tension builds up in my body and pushes toward my throat. Right about when it’s starting to choke me, I put on some shoes and start running.

It’s rare. Maybe 3-4 times a year. Today was one of those occasions.

About 2pm at the office, I ignored the multiple programs open on my computer and put on an ancient pair of tennis shoes. I started running downriver on the Kim Williams Trail near my office. The cold wrapped under my thin shirt, around my neck, snaking down my arms and chest. My feet started aching almost immediately, unused to the pounding.

My head didn’t clear, and it seemed to fill faster in rhythm to my stride. These days, it’s full of 70% work, 30% details surrounding leaving, and 30% social logistics geared to eeking out the most of my remaining time with friends and family.  Yes, I know this adds up to more than 100.  And that’s why I was running.  It’s also why I’m writing this blog post at 11:25pm after finishing one last work task this evening.  Writing and running provide a release.

heron on river

Most days, it feels like my brain is just a reflection of my computer screen or iPhone: toggling every few seconds from program to program, task to task, call to call.

This is not a healthy way to live.

This is not a healthy way to leave.

This is not something that is going to change in the next 6 weeks.

I reached the California Street footbridge over the icy Clark Fork River.  I looked down to see the whole river funneling into one very tight, narrow opening between the icy banks.  My brain stopped toggling, and came to rest on this one spot.  It reflected exactly how I felt this afternoon: a river of water moving toward me, pinching and dragging and towing me under … to what?

I walked to the other side of the bridge to see.  The whole river went under a shelf of ice after that pinch point.  It was a start contrast: fast, frenzied, loud as water funneled through the last ice-free section, then it went quietly under the ice.  Still.  Calm.  Peaceful.

I breathed in the peace for a moment.  But then I turned back to the chaotic pinch point, because that part of the river resonated more with me in this time of 130% brain-toggling tension.  I turned back because it was comforting to see the tension dissipate into stillness, and because it renewed my faith that — just like the river — I will soon be through the pinch point and have room to spread and flow, quietly and calmly.

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