The other week, I was cleaning out the contents on my MacBook Air hard drive because the machine is starting to slow down a lot. I found a hidden set of folders with photo attachments from iMessage. Initially, I thought, “cool, there’s a couple gigs I can just delete,” then I looked through them. One of the pictures was this picture my buddy Josh took last January after church of his son Conor and I pretending to be dinosaurs.
— nathanial (@nathanialjg) February 14, 2015
I posted the picture on Twitter shortly after and Melissa commented that her son Conor and I “both look like babies,” which moved me to consider the past year, because I am problematically over-reflective. A year ago, I styled my hair the same way I always did, I was still kinda scared, I was applying on and off for jobs up and down the Pacific Coast and I had no idea what would happen next in my life. I was working two part-time contracts that came just under full-time at an hourly rate.
After posting the picture, I was sitting at my friends house, which I occasionally take care of while they are out of town. I decided that with the plans I have for the following week or so (something almost every night) if I was going to sit around for the evening, I needed to run. Given my proximity to the west hills of Portland and my desire to run the Shamrock Run 15k, I decided to head up the west hills.
I was exhausted in three minutes. In that time, I barely made it from SW 17th and Clay up to SW Vista. In .25 miles, I was ready to be done. But I kept going. I turned onto SW Vista, and ran south up the hill. I ran and I ran and I walked a lot more than I will admit.
But I kept going up the hill for another mile and a half or so. Because sometimes even when, sometimes especially when, one does not know what is going to happen next that means it is time to keep working. I love running in places I do not know, because what comes next is a surprise. Sure, routine is fine and I like that too. But I love running in new places because it is a chance to push oneself, to explore and see more. When I made it as far as I could go, I turned for what I thought was an all downhill route. It was not – I ended up going back up and down.
I finished the run, and I realized how grateful I am to be able to be here. I thought about how the opportunities and adventures I have had in the last year or so have been like running through the Southwest Hills – sometimes hard and scary, with uncertainty about what is at the top of the mountain. Sometimes swift and easy with a clear view of everything around me.
When things are hard, when the hills are big, that does not mean it is time to stop. That means it is time to keep going.
So here I am, a year later, a year stronger. A year of better hair and better running, more reading, more not-writing-as-much-as-I-would-like, and more adventures.