September is a season for fresh starts. In fact, since in my opinion September should be the beginning of fall, I’m taking advantage of this change of seasons by reengaging with my own life. I’ve always looked forward to the beginning of school season as a return to structure and predictability after the chaos of summer, and I still think of it that way even two years after Cyndi retired from teaching and decades after our own children finished school.
I don’t even mind the sudden intrusion of school zones. The yellow flashing lights are reminders we are finally back to normal and it is now time to reengage.
Because I am a creature of discipline and structure and process, I do my best work when I have a system that works, a place to record progress, and a reminder what to do next. I will go to great lengths of effort and time to find the best system, and once I’ve found it, I will not change my pattern unless forced by extreme circumstances.
For example, I have been using the same log for recording miles I’ve run (or now, biked) for over twenty years.
For example, I record my blood pressure, heart rate, and body weight every morning. I put the numbers into Excel so I can generate plots. I intend to track the physical factors that could actually kill me someday if I forget to take care of them.
For example, I have a black backpack I keep in my pickup, and it contains the items I need to begin each morning: my Daily Bible, my journal, and whatever book I happen to be reading. It also has other things, like reading glasses, pens, headphones, etc., but those are in the backpack to serve the first two items. So when I grab my backpack and head to my favorite booth, I know what to do with my first moments of the morning. And so, my day is better, happier, more productive, and more understanding.
I am currently working on the processes and projects that will carry me through this next season of life. It feels like I’m surfacing again from weeks of recovery, rehab, and house arrest, all due to knee replacement surgery. I feel like Gale and Evelle climbing out of the mud in Raising Arizona.
I’m happy to be riding my bike outside on the streets again, in the sun and wind, even if the doctor only allows me twenty minutes per ride per day. It is my return to discipline and routine, and I am happier for it.
I’ve also been paying close attention to how I walk, trying to erase the ten-year muscle memory of limping and waddling. I’m lifting my head and neck, keeping both feet pointing forward, using my core muscles, and bending my knees. To be honest, it feels awkward, like I’ve morphed from walking like Granny Clampett to walking like Chewbacca.
Lauren Winner wrote this in her book, Still, “Every ten years you have to remake everything. Reshape yourself. Reorient yourself. Reboot.” I intend September 2015 to be my next remake. My new knees will change who I am and what I do and say. They have already changed my dreams.
Whenever I record my (twenty minute) bike rides in my logbook I can see the future, and my future looks like longer rides, epic backpacking trips, long-distance walks, stronger legs, and pain-free knees. The return to pattern and discipline is the return to life.
I hope this September is your season for change, your opportunity for fresh starts. My challenge to you is this: Ask God to speak to you about your future; ask Him to give you the courage to start over and reboot.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32