The sun peeks through the crack of the valley. Beams jog across the ripples of the waking Hudson.
Left…left…left…right. Right, left batters against the senses and demands a pace. Steady, constant and together.
Sweat and tears swim side by side, stroke for stroke. One cooling the body. The other calming the soul.
Time doesn’t stand still, but the mind sets a marker. Don’t forget this place. Don’t forget this moment. Nobody else notices it. Nobody else has this moment.
The beauty of God’s creation backdrops the violent breaking of the individual, pledged to a lifetime of service.
It’s been twenty years since those tears and sweat mingled. It’s been twenty years, and the marker is still there. That moment still lingers. It’s been twenty years since the grace of dawn kissed the discipline of a platoon of 18 years olds in formation. Step for step. Together.
I don’t know if they still say it or not, but in the late nineties at the United States Military Academy at West Point, it was oft-repeated:
We do more here before 9 am then most people do all day.
It was true then, and I don’t have any doubt that it still holds true today.
For that very reason, I groaned out of bed at 5:50 this morning. No snooze. No excuses. I put on my black Nikes and chose a playlist and thanked God for the strength to hurt just a little. 2.57 miles of determination to get better.
Today was about turning back the clock. Today was about settling an old score. Today was about a goal.
I wanted another marker. This time it was cobblestone with towering eucalyptus. Last time it was granite and the Hudson. I wanted to feel “left…left…left, right, right, left” again. I wanted to do more before 9 am than most do all day.
Before the bakers in Portugal have even stirred, I lit out downhill first, then uphill, for a long time.
Today wasn’t about leisure. It was about raging against the dying of the light. It was about not going quietly into that good night.
It was about a discipline that was starting to wane, to slip with age. It was about fighting and scratching and buffeting this body and putting it into subjection.