When I was little, I spent summers at my dad's farm in South Dakota. One summer, I scored the luxury of piano lessons. One time each week that summer, someone on the farm would drive me into town to the home of a friend of my grandmother's. This elderly woman taught me the basics of piano playing. Then my dad or one of my three older brothers would drive me home again.
I loved piano lessons. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to learn to play the piano. My paternal grandfather repaired pianos. He and my dad both owned player pianos. I would sit at their pianos, pop in a music roll, and pretend to go to town on the keys to songs like, "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" and "Devil Went Down to Georgia." But with lessons, I finally was learning to play a few of these notes - to read the notes - in real life, on my own, not just holding my fingers over the automatically bouncing keys of the player piano.
One week that summer, however, no one was available to drive me to town. Desperate to get there to show off the skills I'd spent hours perfecting in my practice, I hatched a plan to ride my bike. My father lived 10 miles from town. I was 10 years-old. And, unbeknownst to me as I climbed onto my rickety blue bike with the white plastic basket and started pedaling, a severe thunderstorm was brewing just to the west of the farmstead.
I don't know how far I'd gone when the winds began to blow. Or when the rain started to pour. Or the hail pelted. I just remember cowering in a country ditch, hiding from cars that passed for fear of being kidnapped, covering my sopping head with my piano book. And I remember my piano teacher calling my grandmother when I finally reached my lesson - and the warmth of the towel she wrapped around me to dry me and protect me from "catching my death."
Fast forward to today. I set out on a familiar path - a round trip of 6 miles - I've learned well in the last month as I began preparing for The Nashville Marathon. I planned to run 6 miles today. But at 6, I felt like I could run 2 more. So I ran 8 miles. And at 8 miles, I felt like I could run 2 more. So I ran 10 miles.
Tonite, my joints are achy. My burnt calories have been reconsumed with buffalo chicken dip and a lemon drop martini. I am warm with the fireplace lit and my computer charging on my lap. And I smile. Because today I accomplished the distance of "a trip to town." Again. This time, not in a thunderstorm at the end of a long, hot summer. But on a 17 degree, sunny, winter day.
It felt great to do so. I felt like the journey - the long journey - had begun. With just a single step.