The Beauty of An Orlando Parking Lot Run

Even though two nights ago I literally got zero hours of sleep, I decided to go for a run tonight. “I’m in Orlando,” I thought, “I can finally run outside.” Since I’d had to wake up at 4:30am for the flight to Orlando, I figured I might as well get a little ‘Orlando time’ in. After all, I’d been working inside an Orlando convention hall for 11 hour days, two days in a row. The outside world had to be better than that.

But it wasn’t. The second I was outside, I ran into what amounted to a giant parking lot lined with stores and hotels. There wasn’t really anywhere to run that didn’t put me onto a highway or into the sides of parked cars.

So I decided to move in a circle. “That’s Orlando for you,” I thought, picking up my pace. My first racing loop was around 8 minutes, and I wanted to run for at least 30. So I began a second loop. I found a side road that was maybe almost a sidewalk which ended eventually but added depth to my loop.

It was dark outside but still warm and a light misty rain began to fall. It felt really good to be outside. I ran past dim windows with people playing pool, a Hooters with staff hovering by the cash register, a Disney Gift shop, a ‘supermarket’ that mainly sold soda and beer. I ran past our cheap Comfort Inn pool- which had a waterslide that was built into a fake rock. “This is really the Orlando experience,” I thought. And I laughed, and I ran. And a light, sticky happiness filled me up inside.

I felt happy to be in the heat, in the misty rain, listening to my Spotify Discover Weekly, running by the side of the road, past a Denny’s and a Cici’s pizza. I felt happy to breeze by the window of a tacky Irish Pub with not one, but two Cornhole games outside. I felt happy to be outside in Orlando, past another one of its lit up fountains, in all the glorious tackiness which I usually roll my eyes at.

I don’t know why a smile hovered on my lips instead of a breeze of complaints. I don’t know how that Orlando parking lot remained beautiful for the dusky fade of a half hour. Who knows. But I guess that happens sometimes. It happens.

 

 

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Just Because the Outside is Green doesn’t Mean the Inside Isn’t Ripe (Or, Those Deceptive Bananas)

Do you ever feel like you’ve made a ton of progress in an area, and then time goes by and maybe some tragic moments occur in your life and you forget all that progress ever occurred? You can’t remember what it felt like to feel accomplished in that area. You feel like you must have completely backtracked. No matter how hard you try, you’re not sure you can get back to the place where you once were. Everything feels ungraspable and transient.

I was handling some green bananas on my windowsill this morning, and was struck by¬† progression happening even when it can’t be seen or felt. Let me clarify. The bananas had been sitting on the windowsill for a few days, and I had bought them very green to begin with. Yet their color hadn’t changed- it was still the same off-putting green I had seen originally in the grocery store. I don’t know what was defective about the bananas’ coloring, if anything, but when I picked one up, it was soft. And when I peeled and ate a green banana this morning it was perfectly ripe and sweet on the inside.

I’ve been at a bit of a spiritual loss lately. There was a death in my family, and I recently went through a break up, and there’s been a lot of holiday rushing around. I’ve just felt confused and a bit off-center. I’ve meditated almost every day, but I still don’t feel back to center for whatever reason. I’ve tried to accept the uncertain and off-center feelings rushing through me, and let them run their course, and that is as always a difficult thing to do. I like to feel happy all the time, as you do, certainly. But I know that it’s normal for other feelings to come into play, and I try not to block them or push them down. Still…it’s hard not to ask questions like: ‘am I spiritually going backwards?’ ‘Am I losing all of the progress I’ve made?’ ‘Will I ever feel centered again?’ ‘Will I ever feel grounded again?’

I look at the perfectly ripe green banana in front of me and observe that progress occurs naturally underneath an exterior that can seem stuck in a rut. Sometimes you just have to trust that somewhere deep inside, things are working themselves out.

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