I haven’t always run. From my youth on, I would tell you straightforwardly that “I. Don’t. Run.” I could dance for hours, kick box like crazy, or walk for days. But I could run about fifty yards before everything in me would feel bad…just bad…and I would stop. One day, years ago, on one of my super power walks, I thought it might feel better to run for a bit. Then I ran a little more every day until I was running my normal walking route. Today, I don’t run marathons, but I run enough to feel I can officially call myself a runner. But that’s not what I want to talk to you about today.
A couple things before you stop reading because you’re tired of hearing runners talk about running:
1. Runners always want to talk about running (you knew this right?). It’s true, we do. But it’s honestly, really, and truly not to brag about our accomplishments and make non-runners feel inferior. I firmly believe that it’s because a) we almost can’t believe what we’re able to do and b) running may start out as exercise, but it becomes so much more than that.
2. Running for me is inextricably intertwined with my creativity and quality of life. I want to talk about it here not as a way to brag (see #1… ), but because it contributes to who I am and who I am becoming in this world. But even that, as big as it is, is not what I want to talk to you about today.
What I really want to talk to you about today is the brink of morning, the moment of sunrise, and the incredible feeling of waking up with the world. What I really want to talk about is how I wake when it can still be reasonably considered dark outside which is not terribly early for this time of year but makes it incredibly hard to crawl out of bed and into tight clothes and cold sneakers. I want to tell you how chilly it’s been and how when I first start out, the sun is just starting to light up small portions of the sky, creating just enough light for me to see the road in front of me. I pass cars warming in their driveways, houses with frost sparkling on their roofs and a handful of rooms lit in warm houses. I pass a school bus, cars on their way to work or school, and cars coming home from night shift. I have gotten to know the schedules of these other early risers. We wave to each other now, a new familiar component (dare I say comfort) of our respective morning routines.
What I want to talk to you about is the soulful music that accompanies me on my runs and how when listening to songs through headphones, while your heart is pumping and your muscles are straining and you have to focus on making your breathing work for you and not against you, it becomes a holy experience. And when you couple this with views of farmland, back by mountains and valleys still holding the mist of fog, and topped with skies that are so majestic that you remember how very, incredibly small you are in this world, that the whole experience becomes a form or worship, a meditation, an act that mentally and emotionally sets me back where I need to be.
I want to tell you that when I’m out there in the mornings, I feel like I’m privy to intimate, inside information about the day ahead. It’s as if I’m told something secret and precious about the morning, the day, the world, this life, this day. This day will be happy…and beautiful. This day will be busy…and beautiful. This day will be difficult…and beautiful. And when I don’t go, I always feel like I’ve missed out on something big and awe inspiring that has transpired regardless of my presence.
What I want to talk about is how each day’s morning is different, and yet the same; how the sky never looks quiet the same as it did the day before, how the cobwebs don’t sit between the same fence posts, that the pastured cows are rarely in the same spot each morning, and the fog doesn’t ever settle or lift in quite the same way. It a very intimate and comforting way of knowing this world and it makes me love it more and more.
If you despise running, and abhor when runners discuss it, I thank you for staying with me and enduring my ramblings today. I hope you’ll forgive me in advance for doing it again on future occasions. If you’re a runner yourself (or a walker, or an early riser, or simply a lover of the world), then I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about and I hope that my words have resonated somewhere within you. Regardless, I hope you all are finding your own ways to more intimately know and love this world…because it is absolutely exceptional!