I’m on my way to Cynosport World Games as I write this. It’s Idgie’s fifth Cyno, and her final one at a championship height. When this post goes up, I’ll be running in the red Tennessee dirt with my speckled dragon amongst some of the finest competitors in this country.
So here is where I write to anyone going to this event, and anyone hoping to, and anyone experiencing any level of what I like to call “joyfear.”
Joyfear: the simultaneous experience of happiness and dread.
Here’s the thing; every time I step to the line with Idgie my heart swells with adoration for her–for our life together. She will be nine next month, and I could not be luckier to have a dog like her. Anything I have ever asked of her she has given all she has and then some. We have SO MUCH FUN together. A more cohesive partnership has never existed; I am certain. Deciding to make this year’s Cynosport her final championship event was pretty obvious; she is nearly nine, in great shape, and ready to wind down. I have Felix coming up, and it is, by all practical measures, time. I am thrilled to be running a totally sound and healthy eight year old dog this year; and I am sickened at the thought of ever running her for the last time (read: joyfear).
Pain, as novelist John Green wrote, demands to be felt. It took me a long time to figure this out, but I’ve got it now. So when my joy gets a little infringed upon this week by fear or pain or dread I plan to feel it all. I plan to lean into the joyfear; recognizing that it’s only here because I’ve got skin in the game. If I didn’t care about this event, or about my perfect girl dog, or about the closing chapters of our career, I wouldn’t be feeling joyfear. So when it shows up, I will invite it in.
Likewise, should a run go not quite as planned, I will welcome the disappointment as readily as I plan to welcome the bliss of a run that goes well. Life is a pendulum; and we don’t get to experience only one side of the clock.
Best of luck, fellow competitors. Love your dogs, feel the dirt, don’t take for granted the magic that is the colorful-sparkly-loud marathon that is this event.