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Things that make me smile on a bad day

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 by Marianne Elliott

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Divine_grace

Divina Graca, me and my shadow friend. Portugal, August 2007.

Things that make me smile on a day when the news is otherwise horrible in the western provinces of Afghanistan:

– a local journalist and civil society activist who came to my office today to ask me to write about peace in a book he is putting together for the people of Ghor. He already has a spontaneous poem about peace from my Afghan colleague and a message of peace from the Lithuanian Commander of the local ISAF base.

– this poem, found on the first page of a book by Anne Lamott that I found, of all places, in the recreation room of the American police mentors:

"I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget,
who remains calm and silent when I talk,
and forgives gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain strong when I die."

Juan Ramon Jimenez

– the fact that I went for a run today. I ran around the inside of my compund ten times, it took me 15 minutes. For someone who used to go out for two hour runs without blinking it takes some effort to celebrate this. But the first rule of running (as in life) is to start where you are, not where you think you ought to be. And where I am is: out of running shape, living at altitude and with only a 1.5 minute circuit around my dusty compound as a running track. My goal is to double that over the next month so I can go for a gentle run with MJ and a serious walk with Swirly when I get Stateside next month.

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16 Responses to "Things that make me smile on a bad day"

  1. Paris Parfait says:

    I’m glad they’ve asked you to contribute a poem about peace. And the Jimenez poem is wonderful. I’m impressed that you’re running within the compound – can’t be the most inspiring landscape. But the important thing is you keep making the effort – and I should be doing the same. Lovely photo of a happy time! xo

  2. lacithecat says:

    That is an fab run! Smile …
    I am so glad that you found a circuit, but the distance could be improved? Can’t you do more than one circuit or is there a point that the guards will start looking at you funny.
    ~~sending you sporty vibes~~
    BTW – will be more around this week.

  3. susannah says:

    oh, that poem is wonderful, and i love that you did your run – your commitment to finding ways to move your body is an inspiration to me (cos you know what a lazy cow i am LOL)
    i love you honey, and miss you lots xxoo

  4. jen lemen says:

    stateside next month? surely you pass through ny or dc then! 🙂 if not, i wrote back to you in my comments–nyc this year, next year afghanistan! xo

  5. Laini says:

    That poem is beautiful, and I’ll love to see what you write about peace. I like your attitude about running — I am a sporadic gym-goer, will go with *some* regularity for a few months until I start to improve, and then STOP and lose all ground. Sigh. As for stateside, YAY! Can’t wait to meet you in Portland!!!!!

  6. Diana says:

    Love the photo and the poem! Do write and spread the word.

  7. Diana says:

    Love the photo and the poem! Do write and spread the word.

  8. Alex says:

    You’re so inspiring! I must get off my bootie since I have plenty of lovely spots to exercise around here! Love the poem too! xxxo

  9. liz elayne says:

    such a wonderful list…and the idea of start where you are resonates deeply with me. i have been doing this for the last couple of weeks as i walk in circles listening to music the makes me feel good as i connect with wanting to physically feel good too!

  10. sassy says:

    I’m a lousy runner. Except, like, when someone dangerous is chasing me.

  11. HiK says:

    Lovely poem. I just borrowed a ‘cardio pilates’ dvd from my cousin – we’ll see how it works out…

  12. Cre8Tiva says:

    wonderful poem…great musings…hoping you stay safe…nice meeting you…blessings, rebecca

  13. Delia says:

    I appreciated this list…and I love Jimenez–a favorite (which I just had to pull from the dusty old bookshelf of his selected writings from the Nobel Prize):
    Oceans
    “I have a feeling that my boat
    has struck, down there in the depths,
    against a great thing.
    And nothing
    Happens! Nothing…Silence…Waves…
    –Nothing happens? Or, has everything happened,
    and we are standing now, quietly, in the new life?”
    Sigh…such loveliness.
    Love,
    D.

  14. Andrea says:

    Enjoying your blog, bravo for running!But how do you force yourself to get up and run or yoga? I used to be all over these activities, and feeling so good because of them. . . .but I’ve found the slow pace of non-American life making me so darn lazy. Would love to know your secret! 😉

  15. ceanandjen says:

    Beautiful poem seemingly found at such a perfect moment. And good for you for starting to run again, for you will will get to that point that you want to be at, and you are adopting to where you are instead of using it as an excuse. That, in and of itself is fantastic.
    xoxoxo

  16. Lynn says:

    Dear Frida,
    Your words have been an inspiration to me in the past few months. Somehow, the quotes you reproduce, the details your eyes point out, the feelings you experience and communicate, all have nourished and enlivened me. Thank you for your compassion, dedication, gentleness, and selflessness. May you always tap into the depths of love you have for this world and its people, no matter what you are doing.

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