Sometimes the first time my wife learns about something in my life is reading about it on readerwriterrunner.com.
When we first met, I told her that I liked to “bury things deep.” Maybe I was exaggerating for effect. There’s a difference between burying things, and not talking about them. I’m very good at not talking.
But I don’t bury them. To do so would mean hiding them away, somewhere within me – walled off from myself and unexamined.
I’ve seen a lot of death and misery in the last two decades. Death and misery come with the uniform. More and more over the last few years, I’ve seen colleagues suffering. Sometimes one incident is the proverbial last straw and the weight of what my friends and colleagues have seen becomes too much to bear. Sometimes the one incident is so awful it does it on its own. For others, there is no one incident, just accumulated suffering.
I’ve learned that when this happens to my colleagues, they are injured – a physical injury as real as a broken leg.
I’ve learned that this can happen to anyone, at anytime. And not just first responders and veterans. The pandemic has made things worse for everyone.
Last week I got a call from a close friend who was going through a tough time. I don’t think I could have handled the things he has weathered. He inspires me. I think he would acknowledge that for many years he buried things deep. And that part of coming to terms with those things is the opposite of burying them.
There are a lot of ways to shine a little light on dark places. You’re probably already doing them.
I read a lot. I read with a pen in my hand and a journal by my side. I underline passages that move me and copy some of them into my journal.
I run. Almost every day. Sometimes listening to music that transports me a million miles away. Sometimes in the stillness of a forest where all I hear is the stream that flows beside me.
I write. Things I haven’t yet told my wife get posted online for anyone in the world to read. Anyone in the world, including my mom and my ex-wife and my ex-partner. That’s a varied audience.
I talk. Sometimes. One of the things I value more than anything in this world is going for coffee with my wife, at least once a week. We have one or two favourite places. We sip Americanos. And I actually talk. Things that have accumulated throughout the week come out. And speaking those words, to her, over coffee, always feels good.
I’ve always known how important, reading, running, and writing are in my life. I knew it instinctively. I felt it in my marrow. But I’ve increasingly also come to understand that it is when I read, run, write, and sometimes talk, that I shine light on darkness. Far from burying things deep, I actually deal with them head on.
I thought about some of these things last Sunday as I ran with good friends as part of the Wounded Warriors one day run from Sooke to Sidney on Vancouver Island. This year’s team is gearing up for their 600-kilometer run from the north island to Victoria later this month. (As a former member of the team, I was privileged to be able to join them for the one day run). The funds they raise help first responders and veterans going through difficult times. Those funds also help their spouses and children. If you’re so inclined, you can visit Home – Wounded Warrior Run BC (akaraisin.com) to learn more, and perhaps even donate.