Friday, April 25, 2008

Intrinsic Knowledge

There are some things in life that are just certain. For example: tomorrow morning I will have medium roast coffee with fat free French vanilla coffee creamer. And my husband will drink his black.

I will sip several cups (read 3 or 4…or more) from one of several Tom Jones’s handmade Irish Coffee Mugs (picture is of the exact one in our house), while Nathaniel will stick with his Northwestern Crab Fishing mug (from his favorite boat on Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch") that reads “I’d rather be fishing in the Bearing Sea.” And he’ll go for 2 cups, perhaps 3 if I brew another carafe or use the French Press.

And it’s not because I need the caffeine, far from it. I just enjoy sipping on piping hot, creamy coffee for a few hours, while reading the newspaper, chatting with Nathaniel, dodging attacks from The House Monster, reading blogs, writing, and catching up on my current, ah, reading. (Can you tell we enjoy reading in our house?)

But yes, the coffee. It will happen. Intrinsic knowledge on my part, at its best.

I just know this.

Then again, life throws us curve balls, the unexpected twist or turn.

I met Nathaniel by accident, nearly tripping over him on the very first day of my very first semester at the University of Wisconsin (Go Badgers!). And FYI, it was the third class of the day – Soviet History for those wondering. But my two left feet made me stumble a bit between the narrow isles of the Mosse Humanities Building.

Yes, I’m a bit of a klutz.

Thank God I’m a klutz – as I decided to park myself right next to him, even though there were plenty of other seats available in the 100+ seat lecture hall. After squeezing by junior-year-Nathaniel, pausing, and giving myself a moment for though, I swiveled in my place, my feet tangled together and I plopped (literally) in the seat directly to Nathaniel’s right side. Splat!

My first word was, “HELLO!” (As though I was supposed to collapse with a bang in the seat right next to him. Naturally, who wouldn’t?)

He turned red, and didn’t quite know what to do or say.

Tonight, he confessed that his original though was that I had just invaded his personal space, as there were plenty of other seats available.

Humph!

Not very romantic, I realize. But he got over my abruptness, and I got over my two left feet, and we soon struck up a very pleasant conversation.

(And HE was the one who asked me out…)

The point being, I wasn’t expecting to meet the love of my life, didn’t realize at the time the enormity of what happened. It was serendipitous. No – it was meant to be. A happy accident, let’s leave it at that.

And now, after nearly 8 years (holy cow – where has the time gone?), Nathaniel and I are happily married living in Florida.

After a few months (2 for him, about 10 for me), we figured that we’d stay together for the Long Haul. Just never thought we would end up in Florida (and Pensacola of all places..).

Again – intrinsic knowledge that we were destined to be together combined with the unexpected curveballs of life.

One more example, because this is kind of fun (and a picture to boot!)

When Nathaniel returned from his first deployment, I told him that I would wear a red dress, that I wouldn’t cry, and that I would contain myself when he first stepped off the bus. (Mind out of the gutter, please. I meant that I wouldn’t run, I would walk calmly and then embrace him!)

Instead, I wore a green and turquoise outfit.

I cried my makeup off.

And when I saw Nathaniel zoom by in his friend’s truck, I turned tail and ran my heart out.

The camera wasn’t even fast enough to catch the grin before my turn (and subsequent cantor).

Nathaniel – believing his wife was waiting clear-eyed and sporting a red dress, didn’t realize who the crazy, turquoise-colored, teary-eyed woman was until I was half way across the parking lot - just before I cleared the Tuba player on the right side of the photo. He was holding onto a can of beer, and seemed just as shocked at me as I was at having him home.

(Marit running towards Nathaniel after his return. Cherry Point, North Carolina).

Again – I knew he would be home at some point. Just didn’t realize when/how/what/where we would be when it happened…

That’s life.

Today was different.

After my swim, I stopped by our mailbox to gather the usual assortment of bills, magazines, and the occasional heartfelt letter (thank you to everyone out there!). Today we received several catalogues, but nothing substantial.

Until I spied the USA Triathlon “Triathlon Life” magazine.

I glanced once, twice, and felt my heart jump into my throat.

And for 5 heart stopping minutes, I sat in the front seat of my car at the mail hut – towel around my waist, hair damp from my water walk - listening to the tunes of Stained unplugged on the ipod car speakers (do you like live/acoustic/unplugged music as much as I do?). But I didn’t hear a word of what Aaron Lewis was singing, and completely ignored the beautiful guitar playing by his band mates.

Instead, my eyes were drawn to the front cover of the magazine. It read the following:


“HOW CAN I NOT COME BACK?”

Blood rushed in my ears, as I breathlessly read and simply devoured the magazines title and subsequent article. I couldn’t read it fast enough, couldn’t take it all in with just one sitting.

Basil – the car (after Basil Fawlty from the BBC’s 1970s comedy "Fawlty Towers" about an Inn keeper who hates guests) – was still running, the radio still playing. But air raid sirens could have been going off, and I would have been oblivious. I was drawn into the article, reading about how multisport helped three courageous individuals overcome severe physical injury and adversity.

I sat in my car, reading the article, inspired and teary-eyed at the same time.

Without thinking, without realizing what I was doing (scary, I know!), I drove the short ¼ mile to our building, calmly walked into our apartment, and all with one fluid motion – almost as though I was in a trance – reached for the scissors and tape, cut out the magazine cover, and taped it to our bedroom door where I was sure to see it numerous times daily.

HOW CAN I NOT COME BACK?

HOW CAN I NOT COME BACK??

HOW CAN I NOT COME BACK???

And for several minutes – not exactly sure how many – I stared at my handiwork taped to the door.

Today I had no clue about this article, had no idea the meaning of what it would represent to me. My reaction was not controlled by my conscious thought – instead I felt as though I was on autopilot, my mind delving into its depths and being commanded from someplace further within. My heart? My soul?

Your guess is as good as mine.

All I know is that the “Triathlon Life” magazine cover is taped to my bedroom door in clear sight, in plain view. Just like my 2008 season goals (unchanged since the crash) remain taped to the fridge, to the car dashboard, to the inside of my wallet.

And please believe me when I say, that I already know the answer to the question posed on the magazine’s cover. It is intrinsic, it is meant to be. It is real. It will be my reality. It will come to pass. I will come back – because I just will. I know it. It just is. It just will be.

HOW CAN I NOT COME BACK?

Because not doing so is simply not an option. Because I know myself, know what I’m capable of. I know what I’m fighting for; know that this battle is worth going after. Because all my life I have faced enormous challenges, have climbed obstacles far greater than any I could have imagined. Because I try to seek out the challenge, don’t skirt away from the hard stuff. Because I like the feeling of accomplishment, love The Journey that life takes me on.

Because upon being questioned by my Mom as a 4-year old girl climbing the rocks above Lake Superior, as to why I was taking the hardest route, I replied, “But I know it’s the most difficult Mommy. That’s why I’m going this way!”

Because I know myself.

Because I know what I can do, what I want.

Because I know that nothing is impossible, if I believe.

Life is startling with how "stuff" comes at you. Some things we are prepared for, ready to face, still others, well - perhaps not so much. The timing of my relationship was perfect with Nathaniel. We were old enough to realize that we had a good thing going and mature enough to handle it, yet young enough to be flexible to allow each other to follow our own dreams. And together we have grown enormously.

I firmly believe that everything that I’ve done - all the training and conditioning leading to the accident – has helped me enormously overcome the crash, the surgery, and will help with my recovery. The mental and physical training helped me survive my crash and aftermath. The support from friends, family, and complete strangers has made me aware that the triathlon community and people in general are wonderful and supportive – ready to lend a helping hand or give a word of encouragement at the drop of a hat.

Multisport and the multisport community at large has been my saving grace.

And the challenges and hurdles that I’m facing with my recovery will mold me into a stronger, smarter, more cautious, grateful, and fiercer athlete than ever before. And while the accident was horrific, nearly everything that has happened since has been – well – pretty incredible.

And I am so grateful.

Today’s articles was one of those stark reminders, those jolts that makes me intrinsically aware that my return to swim-bike-run is just around the corner.

Waiting for me on the road up ahead…

I’m not exactly sure when I’ll have my first swim, ride, or go out for my first run – but the point is, I will go out for that swim, that ride. And I will go out for that run.

Knowledge is a powerful tool: it helps us realize who we are, where we’re going, and more importantly, what we’re capable of. Life forces US to make changes. Sometimes from a red dress to a turquoise one, from one seat to another, from racing an Ironman in 2008 to a different one in 2009. But the point is, is that we DO change, we DO adapt, we DO survive. And we have a choice, we have a decision.

So we keep moving forward, challenge by challenge, inch by inch, day by day. Mile by miles, if you may.

When times are tough, when challenges arise, what do we do? How do we know that we can do it? The answer may not always be clear – but as long as we keep going, as long as we keep moving forward step by step, we are bound to succeed.

The courageous individuals in this issue of “Triathlon Life” are true testaments to this fact. And it is to them that I look with even more inspiration.

So here’s to life’s challenges and our ability to make opportunities arise, to turn an adversity into a positive, our ability to overcome, to persevere. And the knowledge, the belief in ourselves that we CAN succeed.

Because this is simply what we do.

9 comments:

Trigirlpink said...

Well, I thought of you right away when I got my copy! Quite the timing.

..and now that I've just pee'd myself after seeing the house monster's alter ego picture...I must excuse myself

Sarah said...

I didn't realize you had JUST gotten that...

Early last week (or even the week before?) I came home and saw the mag lying in our little mail basket that catches the mail from the mail slot...

There it was, lying face UP...

And I immediately thought of you. I guess I assumed you'd be getting it around the same time and I couldn't WAIT to see what you'd thought of it! So now you've got it and now we know...

Here's to coming back! :)

GoBigGreen said...

You will make it back, no doubt. I read your blog often. I am not your PT and i dont know all the details of your limitations, but i do know that your desire, spirit and attitude will continue to assist in your physical and emotional healing.
As for the Adamo saddle, I just got one for my TT bike and tho i havent ridden it outside i am hopeful.
It is snowing here, 35 mph gusts and windchill of 30. My double road race is cancelled. Stay in Florida, MN is a bit annoying right now.
Good luck and thanks for sharing your stories.
Julia

Alili said...

You were my first thought when I saw the magazine title-I'm glad you finally got yours in the mail:) You will come back, stronger than ever.

Beautiful post Marit!

Zachary C. Mauss said...

Marit,
Apparently Pensacola was the last city in the country to get this magazine, haha. My copy was originally mailed to my home in Iowa and then forwarded in a package from my Ma to my place here in Bama...and I still got it a week ago. haha. Yeah, def thought of you when I saw the cover!
Lets be in touch! zmauss@hotmail.com
-Zach-
PS. Do you have a sweet Xray to show off to the kids some day??? That mag cover shot is tough to beat!

TriGirl Kate O said...

I too thought of you first when I got my copy of the magazine and I immediately flipped to the rankings page to see how far behind you I'd be. Multisport for me is more about the journey than the destination--you will not go back to where you were, you will travel much far beyond that. I believe in you.
PS, will post pics from opening night, and post exhibit revelry. On to the defense!

kerrie said...

great post! especially the last line "Because this simply what we do". Nice.
By the way, I drink fat-free vanilla coffee creamer too every morning. I am such an addict.

RR said...

Marit - great post, I loved reading yours and hubby's history :)

And FWIW, we'll get that mag next month out here in HI :) You weren't last!

RR said...

Marit - great post, I loved reading yours and hubby's history :)

And FWIW, we'll get that mag next month out here in HI :) You weren't last!