It's New Year's Day, 2009, a brilliantly sunny and freezing day in southern Maine. My family and I started the year with an uncharacteristically civilized breakfast of poached eggs, freshly squeezed orange juice, toast and coffee at the dining room table. Now that's truly an annual holiday event! Usually it's toast and peanut butter while standing and cereal and milk at the counter.
I also spent time this morning perusing a new holiday item called Wildlands Philanthropy, The Great American Tradition. It's a massive coffee-table pictorial describing the genesis of forty National Parks and natural landmarks. Mostly it's a book about the people responsible for creating these preserves. They came from all walks of life. What special characters they were, and continue to be, to exercise such a forward-looking commitment to nature. It's truly humbling.
The photographs of some of these places reminded me of the pleasure I feel walking or hiking, running or snowshoeing in the woods, along the beach, or in a place that simply provides an expansive view. Usually it's completely quiet except for natural sounds and my own breath and movement. I love those times because I don't have to know anything: I don't have to be an expert about anything, I don't have to have any answers, and I don't have to perform in any way. I can just be still and absorb the experience. It's quite a contrast for a competitive person like myself.
Perhaps I'll add more of this type of experience to my life in 2009. Already we've scheduled one trip: My husband insisted we insert a weekend camping in Baxter State Park in August, the week after the Beach to Beacon 10K, and we will make our annual trek to Acadia National Park in October for hiking and spectating the Mount Desert Island Marathon. (We actually ran it this past October to celebrate my 50th birthday!) Usually our leisure and travel plans revolve around running road races or at least participating in running events in some way.
To wit, in February we'll travel to Martha's Vineyard for the 20-Miler; in April we'll spend a long weekend in Boston for the marathon (my husband Paul is running it!); early June it's off to Vermont for the Covered Bridges Half-Marathon (yes, we got in after 50 minutes of trying on-line); every Sunday from the end of May through the Peak Performance Maine Marathon on October 4, we'll be training a group of runners to participate in either the full or half-marathon; and for the first time we'll join a team for the Reach the Beach Relay in New Hampshire - 200 miles in 24 hours. Oh yeah, did I mention the local race scene just about every weekend?
Alright, I realize I mentioned in a previous blog that I'd like to be realistic about my goals. Maybe I should just leave my "calendar of events" alone. I will be in many beautiful places this coming year, having many wonderful running conversations, I'm sure. Maybe I should just realize that there are any number of moments in a day when I can be quiet and peaceful and notice that I'm in a beautiful place. So paying attention to what really is, is what I resolve to do more of. Phew, I'm glad I got that figured out!
Happy New Year! I hope to see you on the roads, or perhaps even in the woods.