Well, it has been some time since July 1st and my last posting. So much has happened – trips on foot and motorcycle, mountains climbed, jobs changed. There have been many twists and turns, and more infuriating moments than I care to recount. However, in the end, life goes on whether we are dragged behind it, or lead the charge with a lightness of foot and fire in our eyes.
As confusing as the world may get, I am always pleasantly surprised by the beauty and simplicity of running, and its ability to anchor me to some semblance of solid ground amidst the whirlwind of mental and social activity.
I was reminded of this yesterday after a 14-hour car ride from Northern Maine to Buffalo, NY. In John L. Parker's “Once A Runner,” Quentin Cassidy (a fictional miler and hero to runners far and wide) talks about how debilitating long car rides are to endurance athletes. Really, any car ride over 6 hours has the potential to turn into one of the worst experiences of your life – that is, after the last time you had to drive that far. Endless sitting, fitful sleeping, and a road full of (horror of horrors) other drivers is a surefire recipe for short tempers.
This is why movie theaters should include designated stretching and bathroom breaks, college classes should never last longer than an hour (at least in the typical classroom format they are typically found), and speakers far and wide should dispel with the majority of meaningless blather and adopt the “short and sweet” mentality. The human body, my friend, was not made for sitting.
So it was with an already well-developed fatigue and achy joints that I set off along the coast of Lake Erie for a 'shake-out run.' I began slow, listening to Bon Iver's aching melodies and watching the white-capped waves on the lake, picking a line through sand and boulders, driftwood and water-worn pebbles. Soon I was lost in the pursuit of forward progress, of one foot in front of another, of shoes digging into sand and skidding across rocks carved out by the edges of the lake, rain, and time's own unrelenting progression.
Miles later I climb up from the beach to the road, and have, at least temporarily, released the agonizing kinks of body and soul. Or perhaps I have caught up with whatever sense of self was left behind in the speeding cross-country traverse. However I frame it, it's real – solid and accessible, like a wise old friend that, regardless of weather or consequence, is really there for you. In my experience, that is a truth worth pursuing.