I’ve been on a audiobooks-while-running kick this summer. Thanks to a great post over at Run To The Finish, my most recent audiobook is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Since I’ve been working on my own memoir lately, I’ve really started digging on other people’s stories, too.
One part of Gilbert’s book that really stuck with me was the idea that everyone and everywhere has a single word to best describe them, a personal word. She talks about how Rome’s word is sex and how New York’s word is achieve and so on and so forth.
So as I was listening to this section, it made me really think about the last few months of my life. Almost everything has changed, much like Gilbert’s in Eat, Pray, Love–admittedly, though, mine has been a lot more positive than hers since, you know, my life wasn’t wracked by divorce and similar tragedies.
I have, however, done a lot of unadulterated soul-searching and made a lot of changes, not the least of which was moving to new city and state. I thought about my new city, my new state, and my new self. And I’ve come to realize that as hokey (and probably obvious) as it is, my personal word is run.
Not Running Away. Running Toward.
When Jennifer and I moved to Florence, we weren’t running away from anything. We weren’t trying to escape anything bad. Despite some depression and anxiety over the past year, we weren’t actively fleeing the space that housed that negativity.
No, we moved because when we got married in 2009, we said we wanted to be in Florence in 3-5 years, and we figured it was time to really start setting up our lives the way we wanted them. We figured there was never a “good time” for it, so we just made the leap and started running.
With that in mind, Gilbert’s idea of a city having a personal word resonated with me. As I thought about our reasons for moving to Alabama, I was brought back to my friend Falon’s stint in a project called Rebrand Florence, where local artists work on showing what kind of branding they think represents our city.
Falon’s is damn near perfect: she chose Renaissance, or rebirth.
Running Toward Rebirth
That’s really the idea where everything comes together. I’m in the middle of a quarter-life crisis, honestly. I’ve been fighting depression and anxiety, and a lot of it comes from feeling unfulfilled and wanting to do good for people and being unable to. I’ve about narrowed it down to my knowing two things: how to write and how to run.
Using those skills, I think I can help people lose weight and be healthy–I got my trainer cert for it, and I’m waiting on an open (and relatively nearby) RRCA running coach course I can attend–and I couldn’t do that in my old town. Even the town I work in at the college is too small.
With that in the back of our minds, we moved to Florence, where my wife already works. In my eyes, the city represents a rebirth of my career and myself through running. I think Gilbert was really on to something when it came to using that particular kind of reflection to determine our place in the world, both literally and figuratively.
My word is run because that’s what has defined the new me and keeps me level and alive. Outside of my family and friends, running the most important thing in my life. My city’s word is rebirth because that’s what it represents to me, and how it has really helped my wife and I come out of a pretty dark time in our lives and move forward into a much brighter, happier time.
What’s your word? Or your city’s?