Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

You Can Do Hard Things

Published in Blog.

I went for a run yesterday. It was the first time that I’ve done so in two weeks. I felt creaky with my first steps, and that lasted the entirety of what my phone tells me was 3.31 miles of begrudgingly putting one foot in front of the next. Walking the short distance home from the track, I almost failed to notice some sidewalk illustrations that had been drawn on the walking path by the Bellevue library. They barely registered at first, and I had to stop to take a couple steps back to see if I read the message correctly. There is was: “You can do hard things. Feel. It. All.”

I made the mistake this morning of checking my phone first thing when I woke up. That’s not unusual for me, but the brief spiral it led me down wasn’t exactly an optimal way to start the day. My Comcast Internet package is expiring soon, and with the increased demand for video calls from working at home, the aging modem and router I’ve been using for the past several years weren’t holding up to the current requirements. So, yesterday I bit the bullet and upgraded, also taking the hit for renting Comcast’s hardware so I’d be able to get the most out of the expanded bandwidth without buying a new modem/router set-up right now. Everything was ordered, and I even received a notice saying that the package had shipped yesterday. Great! Then, this morning, an email saying “The package was refused and will be returned to the sender.” Who refused it? And when? The tracking system said 5:52am, adding a note: “Please do not send remittances to this address.” So I did what any crazy person would do and I jumped on my computer destined to get to the bottom of what happened. After 15 minutes or so of bumbling my way through both Comcast and UPS’ customer service processes I conceded that I wasn’t going to fix this at 6:30am, before I’d even had my first cup of coffee. This was out of my control.

Yesterday I read an essay by Marc Andreessen and a line struck me about inertia. That’s a word that regularly seems to haunt me. At least a week of that two-week interval between runs can be chalked up to it. And I didn’t want to start reading this morning, but I did, diving back into my Thursday book, 12 Steps on Buddha’s Path: Bill, Buddha, and We by Laura S. To this point it’s not regularly engaged me, and I’ve approached much of that to a growing internal disconnect with 12-step groups. At the same time it has helped reconfirm a message that has been emphasized by my other readings, focusing on the importance of the sangha.

“The Sangha was originally Buddha’s ordained spiritual community, but today the word may be used to include all monastics and laypeople who follow the Buddha’s teachings and practices. In the extreme, a few people today may use the term for all beings on their spiritual path—including animals.”

My desire to distance myself from groups is part of why I need groups. I feel the resistance, the inertia, to reach out to others while in this state of seclusion. As I continued this morning’s reading, I turned the page and saw this:

I’m heavy with my own highlighter at times, so I’m in no place to judge, but as I looked at what the book’s previous owner had deemed important I was overcome with a feeling of gratitude. I’m grateful that I’m not in a place today, teetering on the brink of addiction, particularly so because of the landscape of seclusion which we currently find ourselves in. I’m not caught up in an irrational tunnel vision intently focused on self destruction, struggling, aching, to find some glimmer of hope within a book’s text.

“Feel. It. All.”

There isn’t a consistent narrative or point to all this, other than to just reflect on the day, accepting the silly nuisance along with my silly reaction to it, and welcoming gratitude for being in a place where this is my life. Of all the different things that could be going on right now, all the different types of struggles that people are experiencing today, these are my problems. It looks like someone named Carroll signed for my package this afternoon. Maybe it’ll make it back to me another day. Sometimes it’s not the hard things I have trouble with, but the things that should be easy.