For the last couple of weeks I've felt as though I was walking around with my heart outside of my body. I don't run from my feelings because I don't have any, but because I do. The human suffering in this world doesn't go unnoticed by me, the losses don't go unmourned. Whether those losses are natural and at a distance, whether they are needless and directly effect someone close to me, or whether they are the result of gratuitous and thoughtless violence. There have been a lot of them, and the cracks in my carefully constructed, personal armor are widening and visible. I know what it feels like to suddenly have the rug pulled out from under you with catastrophic consequences for you and your loved ones. I know all too well what loss feels like. Having said that, I would like to take a moment to express gratitude for the security I currently enjoy and the loved ones my life is blessed with. As a friend recently said, "Life can turn on a dime." It's a fact I know all too well.
I had occasion to go back home recently. It was for a funeral, but as I embraced my old friends, the people who shaped my childhood, I realized how much I missed them; how much I miss living in the real world, even when it's painful, or chaotic, and even messy. In spite of this realization, I need desperately to retreat and process. The world has been a painful place just lately. But that isn't new. Today I'm supposed to be at the Chase Away 5K. I'm on the planning committee, and it's a cause near and dear to me. I've never missed a year. But I've got nothing left. So I do what I do to heal. I do this, and I walk/run.
Sometimes, It's about running TO something instead of from it. About being in the moment. Sometimes it's my own desire to overthink things that gets in my way, so I run. I allow my thoughts to fall away, and focus on the thud of my footfalls and the rasp of my breath. I revel in the ache of working muscles, and the trickle of sweat at the small of my back. I always take the detour through the woods. Where the path dips over the brook, I speed up; I run down one side and up the other until I feel like my heart is going to burst. And then I stop and I listen. I feel the wind and the sun on my face. I hear the brook and the birds. I am reminded of my own humanity, that we are all flesh and bone, animated by spirit. We are a part of this world and each other. Any harm we do affects it all. But by the same token, any good that we do ripples outward indefinitely. That's the part I need to hang onto. I need that constant reminder, a connection with the gritty and real. I give myself time to watch the squirrels and enjoy the earthy redolence of fallen leaves, and I let it all go.