I am (overly) cautious and a worrier by nature. Always have been. With a truly overactive imagination, in any given situation I can come up with a dozen ways that things could go horribly wrong, and then preoccupy myself with thoughts about how best to avert disaster. My family knows this and, my son especially, will exploit it for his own entertainment (“Look Mom – no hands!” … and then watch as my freak out begins and I turn fifty shades of pale.)
Perhaps it’s not a surprise, then, that while sitting together in an airport recently, my daughter asked me what I am most afraid of. Under the circumstances, flying was an easy and honest answer, but her question made me pause. Because, as with other anxiety-provoking activities, it is not really the fear of flying that fills me with feelings of dread.
It is a general fear about what might go wrong.
And, worse, the fear that I may not be able to control it, avoid it, or fix it.
In scary and bumpy moments in flight, I’ve taken to reminding myself (repeatedly) that that right now, in this moment, we are all okay. And in that moment, when we all are objectively safe, I have a choice. I can either spend that time paralyzed by the fear that something could go wrong, or I can spend that moment (when we all actually are, again, okay) talking and laughing with my husband or kids, or reading a good book, or daydreaming about our destination, or doing one of dozens of things that will keep me entertained or connected to the ones I love while the flight continues on. That simple decision to be in the moment instead of being consumed by unlikely-what-if-fears has gotten me through more than one turbulent ride.
Two weeks from today, I will be in Chicago ready to run my third marathon and second Major. There is nothing like staring down 26.2 miles to get me thinking about what might go wrong, especially given my predisposition to worry. At this point, with the bulk of my training behind me, it is time to up my mental game.
Lately, I have been exercising my “in the moment” “we’re all okay” mantra. Simply, I know that when I am in mile 4, nothing is gained by worrying about how I will be feeling at mile 14. I am working to turn my attention instead to the here and now. My internal in the moment check in with myself goes something like this:
“How are you feeling right now?”
“Good, hit my stride.”
“No weird aches or pains?”
“Nope, all systems go.”
“Good … enjoy and keep on keepin’ on … one mile at a time”
And I do.
I have tested fuel and hydration, broken in shoes and tested my race day outfit, I have trained, and planned, and practiced. Now, it’s time to just be in the moment every awesome, impactful, joyful mile and take it as it comes. For 26.2.
Because I know this: The second that I start obsessively worrying about what might go wrong down the road is the moment that I stop enjoying the miles, including all of the uphills and downhills, that constitute this journey.
This is strength in the face of uncertainty.
And it makes me feel so very alive.