Never Look Down

Wearing a double XL running tank that should have been marked L and with an iPod strapped to my arm, I slowly shift shapes as a bland but firm male voice interrupts my music with alternating commands to run and walk. Racing and then creeping through the forest, I am now a deer – slender and swift. I begin to eagerly anticipate the cues for each sprint as jealousies and regrets evaporate with my sweat.

And then the forest becomes field, and my shadow joins the race. I set the pace and manage to stay in front until we round the tree at the bottom of our drive. Suddenly my shadow is beside me – a thin curving line – more of a cantaloupe shape than the hourglass I was just imagining, but still slender.

We make the turn back up the dirt road, racing toward the cover of the trees with the rising sun behind us. I glance at the ground just before the trees swallow my shadow whole, but I have ample time to see that it the slender cantaloupe has morphed into a walrus. On stumps. It is a blob that is a tutu shy of a starring role in Fantasia number. My sprint slows to a walk well before the next command. The trees have fully consumed my shadow when the next sprint begins, and I am no longer fleet, but now I know enough to never look down.

“Coming Out”

I never make resolutions in January. My annual proclamations tend to emerge closer to swimsuit season, but they don’t all revolve around weight. Juxtaposing a new spring fashion season with my other resolutions, however, is convenient when evaluating unfulfilled and sometimes misplaced goals.

And while old failures have never prevented a refrain of, “Wait till next year,” last night’s “Coming Out” party gave me hope that this year may actually be different.  Last night I had the privilege of joining other aspiring writers at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge for the kick off of The Writer’s Project, a workshop taught by author Jon Katz.

I expected to feel intimidated sitting at the metaphorical feet of a best selling author, but instead, as he and we talked about ideas and story telling in all it’s forms – old and new – I began to feel liberated.  Liberated to revisit old ideas from new perspectives and to tell those stories, even if I do so poorly at first.  And, even as Jon pushed us to find avenues for sharing our stories, his encouragement to write without fear of failure helped all of us begin our  (as Mr. Katz put it) “Coming Out as creators”.

So now, new promises are already being made – morning pages or a post every day, stay on the diet wagon, exercise.  Normally, I’d only have to wait for swimsuit season to see my first failure, but liberation is empowering.  I hope it’s contagious in the other parts of my life.

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