A Gift for life

Originally written in French.

It all started while I was training to complete my first marathon. My father’s best friend, who had sport running through his veins, told me that what I was doing was nothing less than a gift to myself for life. That devoting part of your days to keeping yourself in shape would follow you throughout your life, both to alleviate pain and to give you pleasure.

Barely two years after this revelation, the labyrinth I was in appeared to have no way out. At each corner a new wall. I found myself looking for a job when I no longer wanted to live and, more concretely, when I was not even able to pay attention while listening to TV. I was going to have to fight every day, send CVs even if the jobs seemed lousy to me, I would be called for interviews, I would experience failures.

A friend offered to take me for a bike ride. At that point, even if I was invited to conference about stamps, I would have gone there, anything to avoid finding myself suffocated by my distress at home waiting for an email from a future employer.

We had a whole program. 100km of cycling, going to where there are still fields on the Island of Montreal, and coming back.

I will always remember this day. As we ticked off the kilometers, my mind freed itself. First 40, then 50, and 60km until the finish, completely empty. Suddenly I had something that looked like a game plan, a structure. Where there were only dead ends, now there were avenues. Not that everything would happen without turbulence. But I had in mind a destination and steps that were all in all plausible, achievable, to get there.

My journey until then had been strewn with false promises. Meditate and you will find peace. Try this new medication and everything will be fine. Do more psychotherapy and you will find answers. Get enough sleep and you will put all the chances on your side.

Maybe it was depression that made me see things in black and white, but nothing worked. At least, no method had given me a lightness and a feeling of mastery that matched what I had experienced that day.

As I climbed the steps with my bike towards my apartment, I took in the full measure of what my half-godfather had told me. That the exercise was a true blessing.

By Charles-Albert Morin