Outrunning the Alligator

The darkness and the humidity worked in tandem on my soul this morning. My breathing was labored and my mind troubled — it took all I had to keep running. At a half mile, I veered onto the abandoned golf course (now a green space) and headed toward the little pond. I fired up my light on my phone and it struggled to burn through the ink-like darkness. I didn’t want to trip over the alligator that has taken up residence in the pond. The alligator is a good metaphor for all that has been happening in the world. The news these days could eat you alive if you let it.

I thought about my friend Nathan. He and his wife will be mourning the loss of their grandson Jack a year ago Sunday. I thought about another friend who is struggling with the loss of his son. I can’t imagine their pain. My sisters and I have had to sort out our feelings and emotions about the loss of our parents and all the pain that went along with their illnesses. But we had them for a long time in our lives. Losing a child or grandchild is so incredibly unfair.

I thought about my anxiety I always feel while waiting for my biopsy results. I’ve done this so many times over the past 17 years that I can usually control my fear. But this morning it weighed a little deeper on my soul than usual. Sweat poured into where my moles were removed. The sting reminded me that I still have to wait for that phone call.

And I thought about the news and then my kids. On most days I want to leave a better world for them than the one I was left. But these days, you wonder if we’ll have a world at all.

All pretty dark stuff for 5 a.m. in the morning.

But then I began to focus on my labored breathing. I felt the pain in my legs. I noticed a slight hint of a sunrise off toward the reservoir. It was like a natural version of the Serenity Prayer. I can only control what I can control. That’s where I need to put my energy — not worrying.

I began to live in the moment.

I can be a better friend. I can be ready to deal with whatever the biopsy results are and not worry about them now. I can be a better father and husband.

Worry steals all that. Worry is a thief that is like the alligator in the pond. When you trip over it, you’ll most likely get bitten — or you’ll use all your energy up trying to get away from it.

So I chose another route and felt joy at the finish line.

My soul was alligator-free.

About Marshall Ramsey