I'm not a fan of babies.... which is a strange way to start a post. If I was in a grocery store and I had a choice between a banana and a baby, I would go for the banana. No no, still not right. Babies are cute, but I wouldn't trust a baby to help me if my car gets stuck.
I know what I want to write, but it's not coming out at all.
I didn't used to like them. Ah, I know. I'm using the wrong word. I used to not get babies. Get as in understand or appreciate. Like, some friends would have a baby, and they would smile because they didn't want the world to know how terrified they are. But the problem was I was looking at them logically, the way I used to look at everything.
My dearest friends Marc and D just had a baby, Max. I got to meet Max when he wasn't even 24 hours old. I was actually out in the hallway while he was making his way into the world, but I was way too early so I left and came back the next day. But when I saw the joy on their faces, I got it. What they feel is unconditional and utterly limitless love.
I've been writing about love a lot lately, to the point that maybe some of my readers are getting queasy. But the reason us lunatic athletes push ourselves so hard every day is because we want to be noticed, appreciated, and ultimately loved. Love is hard. It's hard to find. Exercising for hours every day is easier than putting myself out there in front of strangers to be judged and dismissed. And it's worked. At the cost of constant pain and exhaustion, I've gotten to meet many incredible people.
But when I met Max, it all became clear. I realized that ultimately what I was struggling for was this. To love and be loved, unconditionally. If I drove my friend's car into a tree, he would maybe love me less. If I did it several times, maybe he would stop hanging out with me. But if Max fell over on the transmission and broke dad's car, the love wouldn't diminish. If he was really clumsy and kept breaking cars, they would still love him 100%.
We all want that: Love without expectation. But that's lazy, and self-entitled. Max isn't giving nothing in return. He's giving everything in return. Hope. Growth. Atonement. A legacy. A bottomless well into which they can always pour their love. But not in a way that diminishes them. Rather they watch that love blossom and flourish into something amazing.
When I saw that, I didn't think, man what I wouldn't give for someone to love me "just because". I already have that, from my incredibly amazing family. Rather I thought, the more I put out into the world, the more I will get back. Because I got to be there. I was invited into their little family, their tribe. I was trusted and cherished enough to be invited to share in the arrival of a beautiful new human in the world. And if I'm blessed enough, I'll get to be around to watch him grow into an amazing person. And knowing how awesome his parents are, I have no doubt he'll be epic.
So for those of you who are struggling here, who are thinking, "wait, isn't this a running blog? What the F are you talking about?" Let's bring it around. None of us like to run. We don't like to exercise. Oh sure we pretend and post the smiling selfies. And sometimes we have a nice bike ride on a beautiful day, or a swim that just feels ON. But generally we prefer to sit and eat. I certainly do. We exercise because of the life it provides to us.
One of health, certainly. But you can be healthy without training 15 hours a week. Arguably you'd be healthier if you only trained for 3 or 4. At least that's what doctors and scientists say, but what do they know. Exercise is a lifestyle for me; it's my identity. And it has allowed me to meet many people with a similar identity. And my family has grown exponentially because of it.
Marc and D actually aren't crazed pain-loving athletes. I've known them for a very long time. They know me beneath my vain exterior and over-the-top persona. So ours is a special connection, one that's hard to duplicate. When Max was born, it was like having a nephew come into the world. And when I gazed upon his perfect little face I just felt unparalleled.... love. He makes me excited for the future. Even if my life blew up, I'd still get to watch him grow and prosper. There's nothing else like it.
So I get it now. I was looking at babies entirely the wrong way. Don't get me wrong, I'm still too irresponsible to ever have one of my own. But now I can appreciate what a blessing they are. The future is looking very bright indeed.
|I don't know what to put here so here's a picture of puppies.|
Cover image: A beautiful piece by my friends at Naomigallery.