As a solitary or social activity, running sparks transformation – it changes in the way I feel, but more importantly, it changes in the way I think. Others experience this miracle of presence through other means – photography, drawing, painting, biking, music, knitting, serving, swimming, gardening, cooking (I wish).
When our kids were young, running provided me with the time to see the world from their perspectives. When I could not figure out a child’s, especially a teenager’s, motivation, I would put on my Brooks and hit the streets. Out in the open air, different viewpoints would float by as I grasped at underlying meanings and discovered empathy. I’d take the time to remember what it felt like to want to be in charge of my life and to have a parent say “no.” My dad used to say, “We’ll see,” which frustrated because “We’ll see” almost always meant “no.” My dad was smart. He knew things take time to unfold, and that tough decisions often involve waiting and seeing.
I’ve learned to “see” new insights and explore caverns of clarity in the rhythm of steps and breath. “Aha” happens in silent space. When running with friends, the freedom of movement in our synchronous strides ensures security and non-judgment in the safety of “running talk.” The winding routes mimic the processing of our ideas and reactions, no matter how idealistic, wacky, or rudimentary. We work out our minds as we work out our bodies as we work out our purpose. Compassion and understanding resonate through the connection in meditative running, casual conversing. and soul searching.
I wish I could bottle the clarity, creativity, and gratitude I feel when I’m out there on the trails and roads. When I run alone, I write in my head. Like my feet, the clarity is often fleeting – dissipated by the time I unlace my shoes and hustle into the shower to get to the reality of my day. What sustains me after each run is a sense of peace and wholeness. Just because it’s not recorded doesn’t mean it isn’t there. This month, I’m going to try to capture it in words. We’ll see.