I don’t know how it works, how to do the math, but it’s like every emotion I’ve ever felt somehow gets wrapped up in trees. Trees become some kind of conduit for thought and feeling, for understanding, for epiphany, for optimism, for love.
Here’s a thing I just realised. Chet Baker had it right: let’s get lost. That’s what running is, for me: a getting lost, the way you can get lost in very few things, maybe only love and sex and music and physical exertion and the way the air smells in the woods in the fall or the way a cold lake feels on your body when you jump in naked and let all that cold swirl across all your bare skin to leave you gasping and shuddering in a strange beautiful release that’s almost like the moment of orgasm, in the pleasure/pain aspect of it and also in the being completely present in your body aspect of it.
The carapace is a wonderful thing in its own right and I can celebrate its utility and its beauty — I can, I honestly can. But I never really forget that for all its protective value, it’s also a small, confined place, like a pedestal … or a prison.
I run. I like to run, a lot.
I love to run. Love it, with big crazy heartsing heartpound loveness.
Last May, I ran a half-marathon. It was a dreadful experience, in ways I can’t, even four months later, fully articulate. I can tell you that I wasn’t jubilant when I crossed the finish line, I didn’t feel the lightness of spirit I had anticipated. Not at all. In fact, I was bitterly disappointed in myself because I hadn’t run the way I wanted to run and because in the months of training I’d done to prepare for the race, I’d lost all the things I value about running, sacrificed them to this goal of propelling myself 21.1 kilometres in tandem with thousands of strangers, in a specific and challenging amount of time.