Patrick Prag is a therapist and a Benedictine oblate. He lives in Colorado.
I staggered through my house that morning, knowing I was out of coffee. I took multiple trips around the house looking for my shoes, finally settled for outrageously large climbing boots, then took multiple trips looking for my keys. I finally jumped on my motorcycle—adrenaline is a good substitute for endorphins when you get older—and broke many laws getting to the local caffeine clinic. Upon arriving I had the sinking realization that my man-purse was not in my backpack. At this point all my training as a contemplative was out the window.
I slid off the trail and let my daypack fall from my shoulder to the duff below. For the first time in 15 weeks, my soul felt like it was loose, not lassoed by its feet and dragged behind its own horse. I had been so wrapped up in graduate school and work that I had lost touch with my sense of feeling alive, of being connected to anything besides production.
Years ago I was very good at hope. I could hope for a more celebrated position, flatter abs, or to cross the finish of Ironman. I was also good at setting goals to achieve these ends: I put my head down and knocked them off. The elation of accomplishing these goals and garnering a little attention for my efforts was a great high, but unfortunately it did not usually last long.