Friday, August 31, 2012


A few months ago, I wrote of lasts and firsts. I'm back there again, this time entering a school rather than leaving one. Here is how it felt to me:

You are shown a large canyon, which you are meant to cross by jumping. This is possible, though difficult. You are shown this canyon often in pictures and other media, though you don't really understand the process of jumping yet. So you go off, and you learn jumping--not just because you will need to jump that canyon, but because canyon-jumping is a good skill. Along the way, you pick up a variety of other skills, some of which will help and some of which won't.

Then, you get a bit closer to when you're meant to jump. You start learning more about the canyon, though not a lot. You may visit it, and some of your friends are on the other side. They come back and visit every now and again--you can jump back, though most people don't do it a lot, because it's a bit of a pain. Some of the ones who jumped over smaller canyons do it--they get graded on things other than jump length, usually--but you saw the other sides of those canyons and decided you didn't particularly like any of them.

All that was school up until sophomore year of high school. During junior year, you're still training, but by the end your stretching, then walking toward the canyon. You start jogging, and feel like you're going faster than you've ever gone. There's a break where you walk in the middle, because you realize that the canyon is a ways off yet.

Then, you're running. Your life has come down to this one thing: just running. Whatever happened in the past doesn't matter, unless you think to be happy that you took some course in running, or berate yourself for being so slothful, before or now. Some people help--this is a marathon, and you need water, sometimes food, nearly always support, though sometimes the best support is simply being left alone to run, because this is life. This complete and utter focus, and this speed, these compose all your life. You finally reach the canyon, and you, along with many friends, jump.

The world goes black.

You think you're going to make it. Are you going to make it? You can hear a few classmates asking similar things, and others speaking from the other side. A few fall before the other side, and, to your surprise, they live. The surprise is odd, as you knew the canyon was not that deep. Still, it feels odd to know that one can miss this and be...fine.

In freefall, the world is different. A little disappointing. No total and complete focus, like the running. It feels a little empty for the first bit, though your feelings improve as time goes on.

You get your vision back, and can see, before most of the others, that you are right on track. The rest of this is freefall, and all will be well for you. Others stress for what seems like the longest time, the same stress you felt in the darkness, though the fear feels foreign to you now.

The ground. You see it coming, and make the most of this last bit of freefall. The running meant you could do little else, and you've been doing what you could to enjoy the in-between space after the stress before the canyon, before the stress after it. You'll be running again.

You hit the ground running, and take off at the same solid sprint you did right up to the other edge of the canyon. You get a few odd looks, and finally someone takes your arm, slowing then stopping you.

"You know," they say, "You have time. No rush."

You blink and step back, staring at the person, as it occurs to you that running isn't the only thing in your life anymore. Jumping the canyon isn't a major goal--it isn't even a particularly difficult one, anymore. You pause, trying to remember the last time you weren't running.

Then you thank the person, shrug at yourself, and go off to find what this side of the canyon has to offer.

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