I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me… but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life…
-Lester Burnham, American Beauty
My legs always feel different when I pull on a pair of running shoes, peppy and anticipatory, like the slight change in pronation has triggered some happy electrical impulse in my calf muscles. Wake up legs, let’s fly. Sometimes that feeling only lasts a few steps (replaced by knee creaks or shin complaints). More often it lasts a mile or so. I don’t run enough anymore to really feel sharp for longer distances. If I really push the pace, I’ll often get a secondary runner’s high buzz at some point, but I generally don’t push the pace.
In high school, during cross season, my legs would jitter and bounce underneath my desk every afternoon before school let out, ready for the miles. The feeling was magic back then. There were days when it seemed my feet were only just flicking the ground and I knew if I could just go a little faster that they wouldn’t be touching at all.
Those Icarus days are gone, but on the few days a month I still get out, I now love the way running connects me to me. I feel the aches and the fatigue and the burning lungs and the cold on my ears, but those aches also make me aware of parts of my body that I often take for granted and they’re my pains and a part of a life that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Running adds dimension to the world around me. There’s a tactileness, a thickness, to the breeze as it slides across my skin. Temperatures are sharper. The sun warmed just for me or the cold trying to swallow me up.
I went for a run in a cold drizzling rain tonight and let it all flow through me. I ran on gravel and bike lanes with car headlights reflecting off the pavement. Then up into the hills where Thanksgiving warmth radiated through homes with large picture windows and fireplace smoke tickled my lungs. At the top I stopped and looked out over the foggy valley, pricked with light, and breathed in the mist. The cool air nipping at my cheeks and my heart full of gratitude for my stupid little life.