And so it begins

Begin it now!

Goethe wrote that “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffective, concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) …that the moment one definitely commits oneself–then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in onesโ€™ favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”ย Powerful words that I’m starting to take to heart.

It all began last year. I told myself that I wanted to see Cambodia. Yes, I wanted to see it for the most touristy but I-know-will-be-amazing reason that is Angkor Wat. To temporarily satisfy my wanderlust for all things Angkor, I would go online and look at other people’s pictures, read about their travels to the magnificent-looking ruins, and read everything there is about Cambodia–from the its history to its hotels (I was scouring for accommodations early on).

In the process of devouring every single piece of travel information there was, I stumbled upon the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon. My heart skipped a little beat. You see, I have always fancied myself before as a runner. I liked how simple and convenient running was, I liked that it gave lethargic me a quick boost of energy, and I especially looked forward to it every Sunday because I would be able to chat with a good friend during the run. Unfortunately, I only did it every Sunday. By the time running took off a few years ago in Manila, my old running shoes were already stashed at the back of my shoe rack.

I told P, who joins races when he can, about the half-marathon. “Maybe we can see Angkor Wat during the time.” And because he writes for a health and fitness magazine, I added, “Maybe we can even join the race and you can write about it.” He said we needed to train for it. Of course, I thought. That it wasn’t just a 5k or 10k race, which he usually joined. Agreed! That it’s 21 kilometers. “Okay, so we train for it!” I said. My husband, knowing all too well my long and comfortable couch-potato past, gave me a you-have-to-commit-to-this-if-you-want-to-do-this look. “Run a 5k race here first.” He said.

What happened last year? I never got around to running a 5k race or any race. Sure, I would take out my old pair of shoes to run in the treadmill at home, but it never became a habit. I would do yoga when I didn’t want to put on my painful shoes, and I would lace up those shoes and run when yoga and all its sweaty breathing and difficult positions just felt constricting and was nowhere as relaxing as running. That half-marathon added to my fear-driven list of things-I-wish-I-can-do-but-I-know-I’ll-never-get-around-to-doing. With such an attitude, I was really bound not to do them.

Before the previous year was over, P and I finally booked our tickets to Vietnam, so we could travel from Saigon to Siem Reap in Cambodia this year. (There are no direct flights from Manila to Siem Reap.) Even though the trip is still in December, I have already gone into hyper-planning mode. I have resurrected all the PDFs and doc files I had gathered before, have clicked on the websites I had visited last year…and then I saw it. The Angkor Wat International Half Marathon was going to be held on the same week we were going to be in Siem Reap.

It felt like serendipity. I felt like the universe was telling me something–here’s another chance for you to do this, here’s your chance to focus and commit to something beyond your family, beyond your writing. Perhaps, it was because the year had just started and making resolutions was the norm, but I made a pact with myself that I was going to do it. I was going to start running regularly. Run a 5k race. Run a 10k race. Train for 21k and see Angkor Wat while on a half-marathon.

Yes, providence moves as well. P bought me a new pair of running shoes. Last weekend, I found myself glued to the Ironman Triathlon coverage in ESPN and found inspiration from the triathletes I saw cross the finish line, especially the ‘regular Joes’, the seniors, the stay-at-home moms, the ones right before the cut-off. This week, I had to interview a travel host who turned out to be a runner and triathlete who has finished an Ironman Triathlon in Australia, and who kept telling me, “It can be done. It can be done.”

I have started running again. I ran on Monday and Tuesday, and today, I woke up and–I couldn’t believe it–I couldn’t wait to run. So I did. It feels really good that for 30 minutes or so, I get to stop what I’m doing and do something good for my body. That that little act of mine, if I do it often enough, will eventually help me take on something bigger than me. I’m sure there will be days when I wouldn’t feel like running. When it wouldn’t feel convenient or good. So I’m writing this here now–to declare that pact I made with myself. That half-marathon in December 2011 is getting scratched off theย things-I-wish-I-can-do-but-I-know-I’ll-never-get-around-to-doing list. Starting now.

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26 thoughts on “And so it begins

  1. This post is inspiring and invigorating!

    I am so happy you’re taking up running and doing it within the context of what you love most: travel! Goethe’s statement reminds me of something Felice sent me from Sir Thomas More: “If any good thing shall go forward, something must be adventured.” We offer the best we can (in yoga, there is a concept called Asteya, which teaches people to believe that we can create what we need and never need think “that there is not enough for everyone…or that we will not receive in proportion to our giving,” so that when we go into a pose, we don’t hold back and think, “I won’t give myself here, so I have more later,”) and then we sit back and bear witness to the world strutting its stuff, showing us its amazing abundance.

    I think it’s pretty awesome that you’re getting what you want exactly how you want it, in a package that is immediately recognizable and resonant to you! Kasi, modern human beings are not exactly students of subtlety, hehe. There’s so much noise around us and distraction. And the world would not have wanted to give this to you any other way. I believe this. I used to think the world should give us what we want sometimes to keep us optimistic–what a lousy way to go though life, ano? Super takot at talunan mentality. Now I believe that what we want is available all the time, and our capacity and courage for receiving these gifts may be the ones that are not available pa, that still need a bit of improvement. But the world? Abundant and generous all the time. We just have to trust how it wants to package these gifts, and we have to learn to recognize them.

    Sometimes too the gift is staring us in the face, and we miss it completely! Remember my offhand remark about Mongolia, the conditions I want for travel there (not to haul shit for warmth and fuel, yun lang naman, world), and the phone call that came a few weeks later? And what I did feel when I got the news (after much screaming and jumping) but fear and superstition! Sabi ng world, Ganun? Nagpakabibo nako’t lahat sa’yo, mega doubt ka pa, teh? (Bading ang universe) I think such mind-blowing intersections of what we want and what we’re ready for are available everyday and we only need to pay close attention and receive with courage, poise, enthusiasm, and gratitude. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Super happy for you, sweetheart. Open those arms, marami pa yan!

    • Ate Bi, thank you, thank you for your encouraging and inspiring words. I love that concept of Asteya and that the world is abundant and generous, but we’re the one who are not always brave enough to go forward and receive its gifts. ๐Ÿ™‚ Keeping my arms open!

      • GAME!!!!!! syempre ngayon ko lang ito nabasa ;p kahit hindi yakkers gimik kahit kitakits lang ๐Ÿ™‚ ngaps (as in nga pala), you might want to check out the pop up shop of We are Triangle at cubao-x, they are selling really cool stuff from different pinoy artists (notebooks, postcards, small collages, silkscreened pillows, bags and of course rock and rule accessories, hehehe), last day na tomorrow (feb 16 – 4-10pm).

  2. That Goethe quote was one of the things that made me quit my job years ago to at least “try and see” if writing could get me to England. It’s all true. It can be done; the universe pushes you forward when you really commit (and: it usually takes longer than we expect for things to happen–but when they do, it’s always the right time).

  3. Pingback: Running and panting | Slouching somewhere

    • Hi chiefmadapple, thanks for dropping by here. Unfortunately, I haven’t been running regularly since last year and I have to build up my pace again. Hope to change it this year ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for asking.

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