I am not very philosophical. I once took a philosophy class during my freshman year of college. The professor was a fascinating woman who had been imprisoned in a concentration camp during World War II. Her wisdom was unassuming, yet she was a brilliant woman with a kind heart. I was like a fish out of water in her class surrounded by much older (the oldest was probably 30 but that was old to me at 18 years old!) and I assumed much wiser students. We read works by Dostoevsky, Kafka and Nietzsche to name a few. I read and reread paragraph after paragraph doing my best to understand the underlying meaning of the words, the metaphors and the symbolism buried in the sentences. Remember these were the days before the internet when you couldn’t just google the meaning of the stories.
Finally in a fit of frustration I went to the professor and told her that I thought I should drop the class because I just wasn’t intelligent enough. Tears filled my eyes because I felt like such a failure. She sat back and sighed before saying, “Aimee you are doing just fine. It’s the students who think they understand everything that worry me. Please do not leave the class and don’t be intimidated by the others.” She urged me to focus on the final project and assured me that she was there if I needed anything else. I aced that final. I still remember it. I had to write a paper and do a presentation for the class on Ibsen’s, The Wild Duck.
However, it was a quote from A Doll’s House by Ibsen that has stuck with me all these years. The main character Nora said,”If I’m ever to reach any understanding of myself and the things around me, I must learn to stand alone.” Just as I had to learn to stand alone in that class I have also had to learn to stand alone in my quest for self improvement. For so many years I have lived unhappy with myself, my body and my lack of will power to change the problem. I am fiercely independent, yet I always seemed to look to others to help me change the things I liked least about myself. All this time I really needed to learn how to use the tools I already have to lead a healthier lifestyle. No one can change another person. It has been up to me this entire time. Until I took the initiative and started actually doing the work no amount of support could have made me stick with the changes; changes I hope will be a part of my life forever.
I ran a long way today. Throughout the course of my 22 mile run I had a lot of time to think. I started running to help myself get healthy so I can enjoy my time raising Carlos and hopefully live long enough to know my grandchildren one day. I never realized how much running would inspire me. I’ve heard others talk about running in terms of being a metaphor for life. It certainly is in my case. Running has taught me things no classroom or book ever could. It signifies my journey towards health, self-acceptance and confidence. With each run I learn so much about myself. Running is my special time. It is my time to think, to breathe, to simply be, to work out stress, to unwind, and to push myself beyond my comfort zone.
Hi Aimee! I’ve often thought of writing about the self-exploration involved in exercise that I’ve experienced, but it is so very difficult to put it into words. Don’t you agree? Did we ever think we could do our fitness goals?!!! They made us into bigger people. I totally understand what you’re talking about.
Re philosophy: I think you have a *lot* of personal philosophy. You’re quite a unique person in how you view the world and its people. You were just too young, at the time, to understand that during your philosophy class. 😀
Thank you Marion. I totally agree with you about the self-exploration. When I started blogging about running I didn’t realize how much it would come to mean to me and how much I would learn about myself. I have never once accomplished a fitness goal. It’s not the number of races I’ve completed or that I will run a marathon that makes me feel accomplished, it’s the fact that even when I am not training for something I still want to get out there and exercise regularly.
Again, an amazing post. I believe you put into words what many people are thinking, but are unable to express. Thank you for sharing…