A few years ago, I was in Tiveria getting ready for my second marathon. I had trained meticulously for this race. I devoured every e-mail from the Bet Shemesh running club and ran every training run at the precise pace that would enable me to hit my goal time in the big race. I was as obsessed and focused as a newly minted B’all Shuva throwing on a big black hat within months of giving up cheeseburgers. (Can’t explain. You either get this or you don’t.) I lived and breathed marathon training. At all sorts of ridiculous times I would go out running to make sure I was doing everything possible that would enable me to hit my goal time come race day.
Nothing was going to stop me running the race of my life. Nothing.
Except on the morning of the race, a heat wave hit. Our coach Chaim — with much experience under his belt — told us all to chuck our strategies, forget about our goal times, and run smart, not fast.
Well, I figured that was probably good advice for most people. But not for me. I had done all the training, what’s a little heat when you have spent four months analyzing every detail of the race?
So I ran at the pace I had trained for. I drank and ate what I had decided beforehand I would need. And I ran a great half marathon.
And then I crashed.
I spent twenty-one kilometers in utter misery. I finished and collapsed and felt horrible all day. But I learned. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you had planned. Stuff happens that you can’t control.
But you can control what you do about it.
No one plans to get cancer.
You might not have thought out what you want to do every day of your life, but we all have hopes and dreams and plans. We work toward goals that we set for ourselves and believe that we can attain them all if we just do what we need to do.
But things can happen that make you have to change those plans and adjust your expectations.
Stella and I do not do all the things we used to. We have to think through our plans and decide what is possible. Certain things we may want to do, but are not always feasible.
Take a trip. Attend a Bar Mitzvah. Walk the dog.
Sure, we could try to ignore the situation and pretend that everything is fine. But that would be like ignoring a heat wave during a marathon. So instead, we both cherish much smaller moments. Taking a short walk, having a few close friends over, asking people who invite us for a Shabbat meal if they can bring the food and themselves to us instead.
Life changed on us. So we need to change our lives.
Just watching a little TV in bed together can be just as nice as going out to the movies. Bringing food from one of our favorite restaurants home can work just as well as taking the family out.
Today we are once again at the hospital for a chemo treatment. Yes, it will get nasty, but at least we can hang out together and read all the Facebook posts. And maybe before things get too bad I can make her laugh.
On Friday the weather is supposed to be incredibly hot for the Tel Aviv Marathon. One of the hottest days of the year. Hot enough to melt the most hardened marathon runners. Of course I have every plan of running it. I may have to run slowly, drink three times as much water, and do all sorts of things that will slow me down.
But that’s ok. I have adjusted my expectations, My only plan is to do what I need to do to enjoy the moment.
And Stella and I will try not to miss what is no longer possible and instead focus on all the little things that now mean so much to us.