An Exercise in Flexibility
As we headed out for a run on the Meewasin Trail in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan this morning, the question “right or left?” immediately came up. The trail runs along the South Saskatchewan River by the hospital and the University of Saskatchewan. We had planned our stay at a small hostel-like inn near the river, knowing that we had a run scheduled for this morning and having researched the Meewasin Trail online.
Despite our research and pre-planning–the Google images of the trail and the online maps–we still had to choose a direction to run with limited information about which direction was “better.” That choice got me thinking about the concept of expectations and subsequently the need for flexibility. We could be surprised or disappointed, not necessarily because of the trail or run itself, but because of our own expectations. Had we expected a populated, well-marked trail and a sunny run, we would have been disappointed. The trail was paved and wide, but the grasses were tall, the route wasn’t always clear and it was raining. Also, since it was Tuesday morning, only a few other runners and cyclists were out on the trail.
Similarly, had we expected a boring run on an old dilapidated trail, we would have been surprised. Saskatoon is a scenic city perched on bluffs above the river. There are seven bridges, several public art installations and plenty of freight trains to keep your mind occupied while you run. The Meewasin Trail is well-maintained and clearly frequented by the local community. Ultimately, the run was enjoyable, memorable and gave us a flavor for the city before we pushed on to Edmonton. There was no disappointment, and there was no surprise, just a simple morning run experiencing a new city on Canada’s northern plains.
So how does this all relate to flexibility you ask? Well, be flexible and patient…I’m taking the long way.
Is a six-week road trip (or any other trip away from home) full of opportunities to be disappointed and/or surprised…or is it full of opportunities for new experiences that exist beyond comparisons to our preconceived notions of how things should be? Maybe I’m thinking this way because we’ve been listening to Jack Kerouac’s novel The Dharma Bums while driving. A simple Buddhist concept is that the world only exists as it is perceived by the mind through the senses. To paraphrase Jack, comparisons are odious, what difference does it make, just relax and enjoy the moment. Life is better when you’re free from expectations about what something should be and you embrace what it is.
For all you Bruins fans out there, this is the equivalent of “Keep Calm and Bergeron.” For you fitness junkies, Jillian Michaels’ version is “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” And the Words Per Gallon travel tip for the day: You never have to worry about being flexible or disappointed if you skip the expectations and go straight to enjoying the moment. – M