It dawned on me out on the trails this week, this small thing.
When I ran seventy miles a week, and worked at jobs that kept me fit and active, I held a presumption: I was invulnerable.
I could, with little thought or planning, agree to a twenty mile run, or a grueling hike. Just pop on the shoes and go, or load up the backpack - and I've always been the pack mule of the group - and head for altitude. No worries, got this, man, let's go.
When I lost running, even just for that one year (though the decline took longer), I lost the confidence I had that I could go anywhere, whenever I wanted. I measure steps across parking lots by the amount of pain from my feet or knees I could take and parked accordingly.
I judged the weight of a carton of eggs, and rebalanced them to reduce the stress on damaged hands. I put death-grips on coffee mugs so I didn't drop them.
Thankfully, that period is behind me, at least for now.
And on that run Wednesday, I meant to go about eight miles. It's a bit of a rough trail, rocks hidden under grasses and leaves. Not a trail for making time, but one to get close to the real world and the real you.
I blew past the turnaround, went a couple more miles up the hills, before I turned back, with the "Uh-oh" feeling you get when you're pretty sure you've reached beyond yourself but you just had to push that extra bit.
I powered the last two miles, loping and covering ground. Some of that old feeling returned and, as I finished out the run, I savored it.
I no longer own a cloak of invulnerability. I'm sadly wiser than that now.
The return of confidence is welcome, though, even if I didn't realize it had gone missing. There is a special power in being able to say, "I can do that." and daring to try even more.