The passion of the run (and the bike)

Out at dinner one night, a good friend told me it was gratifying to see that I had such a passion for all the running and cycling I’ve been doing this year. I told her I’m more amazed than anything else. From where this all started to where I am, the journey has been enlightening. And it’s been some of the hardest stuff I’ve ever done–early mornings, heat, cold, cramps, and questioning whether or not this is the smartest thing to do.

On OkCupid, there’s a question on what’s more important in a relationship, passion or dedication. I answered dedication. It doesn’t sound terribly romantic, but for a relationship to work, you have to put the work in. Flying on the autopilot of lust, desire and attachment will only get you so far. Once that fades, then what?

The initial rush of that first run or bike is great–I’m out on the road! I can feel the breeze! This is wonderful! The flow, then ebbs. Dragging yourself out of a warm bed to pull on your running togs and face a cold, hard dawn, is a…drag. The question of why the hell am I doing this is a constant. You tell yourself, there’s a payoff…somewhere. When you’re not running, you’re still preparing–passing up that doughnut for a banana. Parking the car a little farther from the store.

Soon, it becomes natural. You make the time to run in the morning. You take a pass on happy hour because you want to be right for the early ride. You judge the weather on how good a run day it would be. When you don’t run, or bike, you miss it. You don’t just run for the 5k shirt, or bike for the medal or water bottle you’ll get–you do it because you want to.

That’s love.

I think.

The question on OkCupid (like many of the questions there) is too damn binary. It’s both–the passion gets you in the door. The dedication keeps you there, and helps ride out the bumps that will come.

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Finding freedom

M asked me the question, somewhere in between the bottles of wine we had. It was asked innocently, and has stayed with me since that foggy night in Brussels, as we got to know each other after not having seen each other in nine years.

Do you need to be in a relationship? 

I answered no then, and the answer has stayed with me. As the weeks have worn on, that answer rolling in me has been replaced by another question: what will I do with this newfound…freedom/power/revelation/liberation? Ah, that’s where the fun begins, I think. It’s like a clean slate, having been unshackled from having to keep up with appearances of needing to be coupled. And it’s not that I don’t want to be coupled. It would be very nice to. But who I am as a man and as a human can’t/shouldn’t be defined that narrowly.

I can pursue relationships on terms better suited to who I am–the multitudes that Whit Whitman wrote about. M asked me what I was looking for in a partner. I said four things: an ally, a lover, a friend and a consigliere. That last one she laughed at; I meant confidant. What I seek isn’t complicated–or at least I hope not. And, while I’m asking for that, I have to give it as well. And I can’t forget that. 

What will I do, with the newfound power I have? 

To be (gratefully) continued

The happy ending

I just ended a ‘friendship’ today. The quotes are present because it was one of those things after a failed relationship where one side tries to hang on. I didn’t want to hang on, tried at her insistence, but finally pulled the plug. I’m ashamed and a little scared…because I’m so ecstatic about it being over. To the point of euphoria. I’ve never been happier about being away from a woman. Whatever this was, it was edging toward toxicity. I’ve been down that road–not doing that again. Contrast with a woman I just recently dated: it didn’t work out, but we want to keep the lines open, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll walk away. She mentioned something about life’s lessons taking time. I read that, and shed tears. My god, she’s an adult; I love this woman. Funny…

The lesson here is…there’s a certain liberation in saying no.