“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” Jim Rohn
“Investing in family-best deposit made!” This is my six-word memoir I display proudly each time I send an email. It is the tagline I chose to accompany my electronic signature several years ago. Ironically, today I feel as though I need to make a huge withdrawal from that account and transfer those funds into another account that has seen few deposits of late. I cannot ignore the fact that I am working very hard to suppress the desire to run away to a solitary destination that will hold only me and my thoughts. Is this running or survival?
The time I spend fantasizing about actually making such a break from my day to day job of mothering, managing a household and caring for animals, parallels my time spent wondering about the women in my visual and spiritual reach. Do they feel the same dichotomy and if they do, how do they calm that urge to run? As I walk the aisles of the grocery store I watch a woman inspecting a bin for the best cantaloupe. From my vantage point behind the fresh herbs, she appears put together, happy and balancing it all but does she secretly plot her escape from her husband and children as she sniffs the produce? I have to wonder.
Later, sitting in a local coffee bar, as I pen these intimate and selfish thoughts, I wonder about the other patrons gathered here. There is a man sitting at a table for one, his jeans are pressed and above he sports a collegiate style V-neck sweater and oxford shirt. He meticulously makes check marks on the papers in his lap while sipping his beverage. An easy read is he. There are few other men here, each of them stationed at small tables, focused on their tiny perimeters of work and themselves. I detect a pattern. The only other woman in the shop sits at a large table, her purse, jacket, book, coffee and pastry spread out comfortably across her table and the accompanying chairs. I note that I chose to sit at the bar intended for three patrons and without thinking I managed to sprawl myself and my ‘things’ over half of this java bar real estate.
Is this coincidence? I think not. I believe we women feel the need to spread out and stretch whenever possible. Too often we are confined to small spaces; in the car driving to and from infinite school activities, in the kitchen maneuvering the triangle as we prepare the daily four squares, hunched at our work desks from 9 to 5 and alone with our thoughts as we contemplate the circular question: are we running or surviving?
I have posted on my bulletin board a brilliant quote by Norman Vincent Peale that reads, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.” Words I copied from a book several years ago are now an invitation to pen a new six-word memoir, one that is a reflection of me as the definition of memoir suggests. So, as I sit with Mr. Peale’s challenge, I realize that I am not running away from anything. In actuality I am running closer to myself, the core of who I once was and long to be again. Changing my thoughts doesn’t mean abandoning who I’ve become, it means giving me the permission to jump off the bench and expect some playing time. Now that I have given myself and the other women within my visual and spiritual reach the go ahead to run to survive I invite them to rewrite their personal statements. At this moment I have chosen to adopt the following: “Fit to survive all life’s races.” In these six words I acknowledge the many races I choose to participate in as I navigate my life. I don’t necessarily have to win them all, just cross the finish line. Isn’t this all any of us can ask of ourselves?
originally written 2005