I hate running. I really, really do. Give me an hour and a half of cardio-kick-punch, step class, yoga marathon, days long hike, flex-yo-booty boot camp, whatever. You can keep your running.
But in times of extreme stress, when I’m at a loss, for some reason it’s always what I do. Feet to ground through the Santa Clara campus, down Comm Ave to the Esplanade, sweating through City Park in New Orleans, adrenaline-fueled dog-avoidance in San Salvador, and now on the back roads of western Maine.
I’m pretty bad at this. I’m slow, I huff and puff, I grumblecurse (an art passed on to me from my grandfather). Yet eventually, like nothing else, running (okay, jogging) beats it out. I put one foot in front of the other. I have to, it’s the only way to get home.
Maybe that’s it – the connection to the earth, the absolute necessity of moving my body to take myself where I need to go. To the reward of a chair, a glass of water, and a good stretch. Maybe it’s the simplicity – just a pair of shoes and the environment. Maybe it’s that I literally can’t do anything else. I can’t listen to one more instruction, follow one more rule, or find a creative spark for anything else.
So I shuffle along. I got lost on a back trail trying to find my way home. I tripped into a mud puddle. I gave myself a blister. I smelled the pines. I thanked God for a break in my tears. I heard the rushing of snow melt and the creaking of trees. I felt my body – good, solid, alive – for the first time since Monday at 2:50pm.
“And one of the elders of the city said,
Speak to us of Good and Evil.
And he answered:
You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps.
Yet you are not evil when you go thither limping.
Even those who limp go not backward.”
The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran