The Beauty of Being Shortsighted

    A good life is a not a place at which you arrive, it is a lens through which you see and create your world.

    – Jonathan Fields

    I can faintly hear her laugh wafting down from the T.v. room that sits almost directly above my head. We are separated only by floorboards and a layer of industrial plastic that I’ve haphazardly stapled to the ceiling in my new “apartment” in my parent’s basement. It’s 12:30am on a Tuesday. I’m lying in bed, Chris is beside me and already hours ahead in the land of dreams. I can’t help but grin ear-to-ear when I hear my mom break out in a loud, joyfully-uncontrollable howl. It is a sound so uncharacteristic of her considerate, composed nature. I don’t know what she’s watching to elicit such a response and I don’t care. I love the continual echo as it beautifully rolls on for minutes. It is a laugh, but all I hear is delight coming straight from her core.


    Over the last four months, these are the types of moments I’ve been collecting and gripping onto tightly like rare gems. They are personal snapshots experienced only by living under the same roof with someone; the daily, otherwise unseen, details of someone you love living their life. Now that I’ve heard them, I can’t imagine not knowing about my mom’s late-night belly laughs.

    There have been so many soul-satisfying moments that stick to my heart like a good meal sticks to the ribs–times I would’ve missed out on had I not made such an odd, risky move on my life path.There is no way I could’ve predicted all of the gifts embedded in this strange, fulfilling, arduous process.

    But a short six months ago, it all felt so foggy. The beginning gut sense only offered clues of what to do next, nothing about how all of this would awe me, shift me, and satisfy me so much. Two years ago, I got only one bread crumb that hinted, “Pay attention, Susie. Now is the time to move on this massive dream of running ultra-marathons on each continent.”  The next one said, “Go and tell Chris you want to find a way to make it a reality.” Another one offered, “Ask your community for help. They will understand. It will be okay.” And then another and another and another.

    I thought of this as I aimed to keep my footing on the wet, leaf-covered, root-filled trails today. I wasn’t focused on the horizon or even ten feet ahead. My chin was slightly down, my gaze fixed just two footsteps in front of me. This is what keeps you upright and alive as a trail runner. There is no safety or completion in looking too far ahead. The feet, like the gut, have unexplainably good eyes. In turn, you must let go and trust in your own shortsightedness. 

    Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not, as in fiction, to imagine things which are not really there, but just to comprehend those things which ‘are’ there.

    – Richard Feynman

    I think that’s really how it happens for any of us. We don’t get a picture of the whole pie. We get a slice or a crumb; a feeling that catches our attention, a curiosity, an idea that positively haunts us or an inkling that shakes us a little. But certainly not how to do it all, where it will lead, and the possibilities it will present if we really trust it. I don’t know what the force is that got me here and I don’t need to. It has called me once again and I’ve been answering with my life.



    Here are a few shots of our time at the communal homestead & preparing/ training for the “Explore the Edges” expedition–


    Kilian’s favorite perch alongside the backdrop of Cincinnati fall color


    Our homemade map with our intended travel route. It hangs in the basement for inspiration.


    Due to the lack of a shower in our basement apartment, Chris has made it his mission to shower outside every day in the stairwell using the hose. Winter is coming so we will discover how long it lasts!


    Basement happiness with one of my awesome roommates. This picture is to remind me someday that the sacrifices were worth it.


    There have been a lot of late-night coffee dates as we plan the nitty gritty details.


    The infamous steps (195 in one set) on one of my favorite trails. They’ve become a great training tool.


    This journey would NOT be possible without the generosity of my mom and step-dad, Ben (pictured).


    Fall in Cincinnati does not disappoint!


    • Patty Herbst

      Susie, I read this through 4 times and studied the pictures with a smile. What a delightful heart you have. My hope is that when your publisher publishes your book of adventures, they will immediately publish a large print edition as well. Yes, as I read this I see a wonderful book in the offing. Sure pray that you accept this second challenge from me (and probably from many others). You have a magical way of putting what is in your heart into words.

    • Melissa M.

      Here here, I agree with Patty – can’t wait for the book! I love the comparison of shortsightedness in life with shortsightedness in trail running.

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