This is a rough draft of an essay for a book of essays I'm currently working on. If you'd like to see my progress check the journal I'm keeping.
Do you ever run or walk? It's pretty easy and a great form of exercise. What you do is take one foot and put it in front of the other, and repeat. I used to belong to the local gym and have for most of my life. A gym at one college, then a community gym, then other college gym, and then another community gym. Finally I stopped going to the gym because I felt like I was complicating my workouts. Reading fitness magazines will get you to think that abdominal exercise X is superior to exercise Y and that they shouldn't be in conjunction with each other. For most us, we just need to exercise and it doesn't matter what we do. I run.
I enjoy running because of the simplicity. Get a pair of shoes and then it's one foot in front of the other.
I've run a lot in life. I ran competitively in high school, socially in college, and for my health now. I run because it's a great metaphor for whatever I'm doing. Each step I take in the moment of the run is all I get to control. My pace, gait, arms, head, breathing, and attitude. Once that step is gone, it's gone forever. It's faded off me like one spec of hue off my colored shirt. It's on to the next step and one foot in front of the other.
When I run I often look behind me to check for cars, I've never been hit by one but figure that's in part because I've always been looking behind me. When I look back I see all my steps, they exist as part of the road, they will always be there but I can never get them back. I got to have each of them in the moment but then once I lifted my food and continued forward that step was gone and hopefully I made the most of it. That's the only way to run, forward with one foot in front of the other.
Being a parent is like this, you only get to move forward and there is an easy way to see if you're not moving forward - anger. Anger comes from a place deep inside us where we expect things to be one way but they are another and these two things clash. Like our expectations are a giant sea wall, keeping storms at bay and standing strong but occasionally getting slapped by some monstrous waves and causing damage. Like when kids spill milk.
I used to get angry about spilled milk, wondering why the heck couldn't they just wait for me to pour a glass or take their time or listen to my instructions. They can't do these things though because they don't know how. They need to have enough life experiences to figure this out and one of those experiences is spilling our milk. So we spill milk and just like my past footsteps are gone so is the opportunity to keep the milk in a container. We move forward by cleaning it up, one foot in front of the other.
All we can do is move forward, we have no choice. We get a moment, then it's gone and we get to remember those moments and own them but we never get to change them. All we get is to move one foot in front of the other.