My Sister in law gave me this trucker style hat some years ago. She said that it looked like it would be a good hat to wear while running, and honestly, it was a pretty cool hat. It was a little bigger than I would prefer though, so it actually spent some time just sitting in my closet. Eventually, I started wearing it on my runs, and the more I wore it, the more I liked it.
Fast forward to now, and that hat has become a symbol for me. That hat has been on my head during some of my longest and toughest runs, and just about every other run since. Now that hat spends a little less time stored away, and more time in plain sight. Mainly, this is so that it can dry out from the last sweat I put on it; but also, seeing this hat makes me think.
Here is the thing about running; it is a multi dimensional experience. When I first began to run, the distances were short, and I ended up stopping and walking a little more than I had hoped. Each time I went out was a guaranteed pain session that involved soreness of muscles, joints, and lungs; the main focus was to hit that one mile mark without stopping. During these times, the main focus was on the physical dimension of building muscle, stamina, and establishing good form.
After I was able to run a mile, I pushed for two, then I pushed for three. What I found in spending more time on the trail, was that the pain would actually lessen after the first mile or two; and that would open up another dimension of the experience. The pain is replaced with energy, and my mind would begin to cycle through thoughts. Introspection became the new dimension, and that became a driving force to stay running.
Some runs were taken to burn off steam, or work through a tough situation. I remember being alone in the woods throwing a rock and crying out to God for help in my broken state. There are times that tears would be streaming down my face because I had been able to reach out and connect to something beyond me because I kept running. I have run through times of loss, times of recovery, times of sadness, and times of needed clarity.
Some runs were taken out of a sheer joy to be alive, and gratefulness for the gift of nature; breathing deep of the mountain air, and finding myself thankful for the ability to be able to run. Some times I would find myself singing praises to God, or talking out loud to myself as I worked through a problem. As the miles go on, the voice inside begins to speak.
Another dimension that was opened up by moving into the hour long runs was the community that I found with my friends. We developed a pack that would not only run together, but go through life together. On those trails we would discuss faith, dreams, struggles, food, movies, plans, running, as well as talk through whatever else was going on our lives that needed some insight. We shared in each other’s pain, and we shared in each other’s joy. We invite others to join us, because we have experienced the gift of running together.
So back to that hat. When I put it on, I know that something good is about to happen. I see that hat sitting on my dresser, or on the counter, and I am taken back to many of the moments that I shared above. I am reminded of the physical, spiritual, and emotional growth that takes place out on the trail. I am reminded of the community I have found. I am taken back to the various landmarks, smells, and weather that I have run in. Ultimately, that hat represents a piece of who I am.
What are some of the items in our life that we can look to for a reminder of something greater than ourselves? I was caught off guard how much that hat came alive to me this morning as I saw it sitting on the counter. I will continue to run, and will continue to push my limits to glimpse grander views of what life is about. Whether it’s a hat, instrument, book, pepper grinder, picture, or any other thing that brings us into a space of inspiration and a multi dimensional living; may we heed the call, and step into our passion.