Something clicked in my brain driving home today.
There’s a small community park three miles from my deck. My dog (he is a dog named Sioux) and I love to run to it: he gets to go swimming twice at the boat landing and I don’t have to pull ticks off him after. It’s a six mile out-and-back. The last few weeks, in my ebb, it has felt like quite the commitment.
Have you ever gone back to a place you remember only from your childhood?
The first time I truly experienced this was revisiting a summer camp as a junior in high school. In my mind, I recalled hiking miles during the counselor hunts and sitting in the amphitheater with a thousand other kids. When I returned – just to volunteer for a day – the camp layout was miniscule. The buildings were, well, for children. The cafeteria seated a few dozen. I felt like someone had taken my memory between their fingers and smooshed it into a cube.
As an adult I’ve returned just once to my childhood hometown. It was happy at first; as I exited only county highway JS, I smelled something familiar. I had forgotten that the entire city smelled like milk chocolate (or maybe I never noticed as a small girl). It’s hard to know something if you’ve never known differently. Burlington is home to the Nestle chocolate factory.
I drove straight to the house where I took my first steps; I was astounded that my gigantic
yard was actually just average. My spacious bedroom hardly fit a queen bed. More importantly, all of my emotions suddenly felt compacted into that house, that tiny lot, whereas previously they had felt expansive and shadowed many things under their umbrella.
It threw me off. I realized, white-knuckling my steering wheel, that my memories were wrong. Valid? Honest? Yes. But not to scale.
That’s how I feel about the park run. Right now, I’m working
hard (inspired by friends) to increase my mileage base, to sweat at yoga sculpt every week, to eat the rainbow of fruits and vegetables. I’m starting to see the weariness fade and the vibrancy burn again. I run to the park, back, and want more. I feel in my bones that I have entered training mode and I am hungry for it. Running 10 miles before work with ease tells me that I have an ironic renewed perspective on distance.
That’s what clicked: perspective worries me. In shallow ways (the park run) and deep ways (childhood memory), how can it shift so fluidly? How can it be honest while simultaneously inaccurate?
If perspective continuously sharpens into focus with time, age, and experience, that would be ideal. But, some quiet voice in me does not believe that is so. Not for me. I waffle. If perspective is so dynamic, then what is trustworthy?
Although it is a valuable and proving character trait, honesty proves very little – I’ve heard many honest things in my life that are still flawed and false. Honesty is only compared against your own truth. Genuine honesty is inextricably linked to perspective.
I cannot button up these questions yet.