50 Years of Running: What a fool believes

Somehow I managed to squeeze in a race back home in Illinois amid all the new obligations with the admissions job. The race raised funds for my high school cross country program, and I ran a solid 25:40 five-mile after going through the three-mile mark in 15:13. Then I drove back up to in the Chevy Monza the college had given me, and met my girlfriend before she headed out for the same RA Retreat in which I’d met her a year before. Life seemed to be swirling all around us.

I dove back into the job, but was still unaccustomed to the grind of a daily routine. “I can barely keep track of what day it is,” I wrote in my journal. “The job threatens. My head aches. But there are rewards. Anticipation. Motivation. I’ve got to justify my existence to myself. Clearly and openly. God help me know myself.”

I was still running and trying to think it all through. “As I look through these yearbooks (journals) and at last year’s workouts, it’s easy to see that life is changing. And so it does. I have enjoyed the difficult changes and strength of mind that I feel. Yet people watch you change and they enjoy any pain they can envision and impose on you. They want you to suffer along with them, no matter how good you feel about yourself. Well hell with them. Be sure of yourself. I will. These times are times to be looked back upon, and how soon. Youth is the experience that that one is made up of, and experiences keep one young. What a fool believes. I am not trying to reason away the problems and sorrow. No way. I’ve grown too much from pain. Just give me; let me, know me, as a man who cares what he’s all about.”

What was the source of all the pain I was talking about? Most of it (but not all) was the sense of being caught between two worlds. The world I longed to create… and the one that was actually taking place. Dealing with the office atmosphere with all its subtle quirks and political expectations was not to my liking. I generally liked and appreciated most of the people on the admissions team and the support staff too. But there was an odd sensation, communicated in sometimes not-so-subtle ways–– that my relationship with my girlfriend was somehow now out-of-bounds. “College staff cannot date students,” I was told at one point.

What was I supposed to do about that? She and I had been dating more than a year. It wasn’t like I picked her up at some campus bar over the weekend. Other college couples had met on campus. I didn’t get the difference, and didn’t dare to ask.

That feeling was made worse by the fact that I didn’t genuinely understand where she and I were headed. On Sept 6, just over a month into the new job, I wrote, “(She) and I have talked unendingly about our affinities for each other. And I don’t care what she says from now on, should I decide to call it nil on the engagement…”

Yes. She was pressuring me to get engaged. Back at home in July, I’d even gotten some pressure from my mother to honor that idea if it came up. I wrote, “It’s fair to her to let on how I feel about her and respect her. I understand the need for a promise now after a talk with mom.”

So my mind was swirling about all of that. Yet my feelings were real. “I’ve loved her with all my heart, every cent, all my talents and with my mind. I still love her. She’s very intelligent but possessive. It is not as if I have not beckoned her to love me. I am a sorry sort at times and she has helped me immensely. Without her I might have been lost at times. But it’s still me inside her love, and I have to do the going for it. I don’t know how to tell her I care for and about her. This need not be the forever end. Am I a quitter? I think not. I’m just going to find my way and be ready for next time around.”

On September 7th it all came to a head: “(She) told me to get lost today. I don’t plan on it. She has treated me so fine. I feel no bitterness, but remorse at my not having the foresight to manage things earlier. Maybe we will hit it off again sometime, when some of hers and mine attitudes have changed. It is my guess she will have nothing serious to do with men for a while. I will probably not be capable of meeting anyone else either. I won’t lie. She hurt me last night, smiling and laughing and looking so fine.”

After our big row, we wound up at the same bar that night, where I almost died from the tension of seeing her. Whatever the case, we made up that week and I noted on September 13, “I begin traveling next week. What a change that will be. I must get totally prepared for each trip. Maybe’s can’t be counted on. Anyway, do your best.”

I ran six miles with the college cross country team that week, sneaking out of work a bit early to catch them for a run. My week totaled 25 miles. Just hanging on. Sensing even more change in the coming days, I wrote, “That Mistress of Mine” probably means more to me than ever before.” That was a reference to a song hiding on the back end of a Little River Band album. The music was mesmerizing, and the lyrics compelling:

She turns like the tide and takes me where I’ve never been
There’s peace at her side, she’s a lady and a gypsy queen
I’m caught by her spell, sometimes I wish I’d never seen
That mistress of mine, that mistress of mine

But the bigger theme playing in my head was the song What a Fool Believes, a major hit by the Doobie Brothers that year:

He came from somewhere back in her long ago
The sentimental fool don’t see
Trying hard to recreate what had yet to be created
Once in her life, she musters a smile for his nostalgic tale
Never coming near what he wanted to say
Only to realize it never really was

She had a place in his life
He never made her think twice
As he rises to her apology
Anybody else would surely know
He’s watching her go

But a fool believes he sees
The wise man has the power to reason away

What seems to be
Is always better than nothing
And nothing at all keeps sending him

Somewhere back in her long ago
Where he can still believe there’s a place in her life
Someday, somewhere, she will return

On September 16th I wrote: “I go on the road tomorrow. God, let me do well!”

About Christopher Cudworth

Christopher Cudworth is a content producer, writer and blogger with more than 25 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing, journalism, public relations and social media. Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @genesisfix07 and blogs at werunandride.com, therightkindofpride.com and genesisfix.wordpress.com Online portfolio: http://www.behance.net/christophercudworth
This entry was posted in fear, foregiveness, love, mental health, race pace, running and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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