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.
Lately I’m thinking a lot about this because lately I’ve been training to run a marathon in May. Training to run a marathon in May means training through much of the winter and when you live in Canada — most parts of it, anyway — that means training through bad weather. I’ve had counsel not to risk injury by pounding the slippery pavement when conditions are inclement but to go pound the nonslippery treadmill at the Y instead. But lord, lord, I am loath to do that, loath beyond all reason, really, because I’m an experienced enough winter runner to know exactly how treacherous running on snow and ice and greasy slushy stuff can be. And if you don’t have that experience, believe me when I say: Treacherous. Very goddam treacherous. I’ve found that out the hard way, more than once. Given that, you’d think I’d just woman up and take it indoors, but I can’t find it in myself to do that, because while I can give up a lot in service to this marathon, I can’t give up the feeling of being utterly lost in the moment and utterly present in my own corporeal self, experiences I am unable to locate over and above the blare of Mantracker on the gym TV.
I once saw this very short film called Emily’s Feet about a sex-trade worker called Emily, who caters to people with foot fetishes. (Please know that the film is NSFW so click on that link with caution.) I love her because contrary to the view I suspect many of us have of people working in her industry, she’s this wonderfully whip-smart and insightful person. At one point in the film, she says, “I am most turned on when someone is just completely gone into their animal self. They’ve stopped existing as the personable, sweet, conscientious, rational person they normally are … and they’re just … jelly. Impulse … that’s fantastic.” Oh my god. The first time I heard her say that I went weak at the knees. That is so completely what I love about sex and some music and, as it turns out, running.
Let’s get lost. That is it. And one of the best ways in the whole world for me to do that is to run outdoors, in bad weather, even. Or to be honest? In bad weather especially. It makes me feel aliver than I ever do otherwise and loster from all the crud of life than I ever feel otherwise.
OMG. Chet Baker connects to running. Another reason to love that man.