The first few steps took a bit of getting used to, I’ll admit — adjusting to the snow underfoot into which my foot sank a good 4 or 5 inches with every step. ground underfoot which periodically changed from snowy to slushy to muddy and back. And I had to think several times to recall exactly where that crucial downhill turn was. But once I was a good distance into the woods, it started to feel marvelous. There is something so calming about the simplicity of nature – just the sun, and the evergreen trees, and the pinecones beneath your feet. It is so reassuring, so rejeuvenating, to be able to let go of the daily commotion, put the work aside, and just be truly in tune with your breath and the beauty of your surroundings.
And then, I reached the section where the trail runs right along the side of the lake. The water was so blue, reflecting the pure color of the sky. On the edges of the lake, there were sections of ice where the water had frozen over. The clear glimmer of the ice, the soft whiteness of the snow, the fresh and earthy scent of the pine needles. I stopped, mesmerized in the sereneness — everything so beautifully connected, in harmony.
The path did look a little different when blanketed with several inches of snow. When I used to run this loop almost every day years ago, I began to distinguish the different sections by which type of ground was beneath my feet – soft dirt, or grass, or that uphill section of blue-gray gravel which meant that the end was soon. Now that all the surfaces appeared the same – snowy white – there were some moments of temporary hesitancy, where I wasn’t entirely sure which section came next, or if this is the place to turn. But I told myself to just listen to my instincts, because despite not having run on it for two years, I knew this trail – backwards and forwards, literally – I’ve run it so many times in both directions.
So I trusted myself. I went down the long hill so smoothly and effortlessly, it felt like I was gliding. I felt so free. And soon, I was back at the trailhead, perfectly satisfied. It was refreshing. It was exhilarating.
Later, in yoga class, in one of the standing postures where your heart is pounding and you’re trying to catch your breath, I had a moment of worry. Oh man this is tough, how will I make it through this posture without sitting down? Then I thought back to my run. And I realized a common chord was struck, connecting my yoga class and my earlier run. There are times in the yoga room when we don’t know what’s going to happen next – how will we feel, will we be able to balance without falling out, will the teacher just open that door… but that uncertainty is just like those few inches of snow blanketing the woodsy trail. Deep down, we know this yoga. We’ve gone through the series of postures many, many times; it’s ingrained in our muscle memory. So there’s no need to doubt ourselves; there’s no need to worry. Just trust. Just breathe. Know that you have, have always had, and always will have, the courage and determination it takes.
Perhaps I could apply that concept to my math exam tomorrow: sure, the test will be challenging, each problem on the surface appears to be a new question that I’ve never seen before. But deep down, all questions, no matter how difficult, are based off the same fundamental principles. And I know those fundamental principles; I’ve used them many times. So I should just trust. Just breathe. And know that I have, have always had, and always will have, the courage and determination it takes.