Monday, January 23, 2012

Opening the Box

This is the first installment for the Death Valley Express III. It is also the first installment of what will become the story of my life - my memoirs, you might say. 

Two writers whom I respect a great deal have encouraged me to produce such a work, thinking perhaps that I have some interesting things to say. After a long hesitation, I decided to take their advice and started work in November 2010. I started the process with a general reflection on my life, and began breaking it down into digestible segments. For good reason, I have not thought about my life from about age five through high school and a bit beyond - well, really, ever. 

But, if I was going to do this thing, I would have to look into that box. 

You know what they say about leaving sleeping dogs lay, and similarly about closed boxes. Well, it had to be done. The box creaked open as I wrestled with the rusted hinges. The wave of painful emotion associated with a stolen youth, nasty experiences, and genuinely bad things broke over me and held me down like a riptide dragging me out to sea.

This was not going to work. Within two months of starting, I found myself so depressed that I was having trouble working, and having trouble training for Death Valley Express II. Running is good for the blues. But, I was not blue. I was in a dark, smokey cave of ill defined grief and sadness. I closed the box, opened the windows of my mind and cleared the air as best I could. And, I got on with life.

By all typical measures, I have been successful as an adult (except financially, perhaps). But that came at a cost, and was driven by a need to be something very different from what I was, and what I might have otherwise have been. The one constant, the one thing I always did since high school, the thing I most happily identify myself with is running. I have always been a runner, and I always will be a runner.

Not long after my abbreviated Death Valley Express II, I spoke with one of those writer friends. Not wanting to leave things as they were, I told him what happened. He was clearly empathetic at some real level. His suggestion was to break it up into small parts. Basically, open the box, grab something, and close it again right away. Eventually, the box will be empty, and it will all be out there for everyone to see, including myself. And it, and I, will be OK.

So, here I be -- starting that process. 

In my next post, which will follow very soon after this one, I will only really just refer to that box as I tell you about my Death Valley quest planned for this summer, August 2012.


"Badwater" Bill
Tujunga, CA