17 September 2012

embracing the 'dreadmill'

two years ago, i ran my first half marathon.

actually, i survived my first half marathon.

my son, Trevor, and my brother, Roger, joined in the fun.

T finished his race and soon after signed up for cross country at his school. Rog crossed the finish line and proclaimed, 'we need to do a FULL one of these!' both of them were exhilarated by the experience, and had caught a bad case of the 'running bug' as a result.

as for moi? i was proud of my son, baffled by my brother, and exhausted in every fiber of my being.

English was not an option at that point, because all that came out of my mouth was one long 'vowel movement'.

i didn't 'catch' anything after the experience, except for the strong desire to STOP RUNNING.

this past year, i decided to START RUNNING once again.

i trained for the half marathon once again.

i ran the half marathon once again.

but this time, i actually DID catch the 'running bug' after the race. and i've been running ever since. mornings, afternoons, evenings. even on vacation. i'm up to five days a week, about 4-5 miles per run.

sometimes, i look in the mirror and ask whatever crazed presence has invaded my body to return good ol' easy going, junk-food loving, laid back and lazy 'Brian' to his rightful place within me.

but then i realize that in this strange, confusing and crazed season of my life, the place i feel best and most at peace is not under my covers or in my sweats on the couch.

it's when i'm running.

now this is not the result of achieving consistent 'runner's high' or other such fictional phenomena. when i run, i usually feel like 'Mr. Incredible' when 'Syndrome' shoots those weird liquid lead balls at him, weighing his body down and slowing him to a crawl. and i mostly just feel sheer, blessed relief when i'm done.

i don't LOVE it.

i just DO it.

(and i wear Asics, not Nikes ;)

if i have my choice, my greater preference is to run outdoors. living in a majestic place like Missoula, with the rivers and mountains surrounding me and the 'big' sky above me, i experience not only the beauty of the environment. i feel like i'm somehow connected to the rhythm of creation. i don't wear earbuds and listen to music so that i can enjoy the natural 'melodies' and 'harmonies' all around me. i pay attention to the winds of Spirit blowing through the trees and breathing in and out of my body and being.

when i run outside, i feel like i'm a traveler trekking on a journey. and i'm actually GOING SOMEWHERE.

(My general state of being whilst running in the great outdoors)

but living in 'Big Sky Country' has its drawbacks, too, at least when it comes to running outdoors. like winters with snow and ice. and summers with smoke from forest fires even two states away.

so when 'mother nature' prohibits my daunting jaunt for one reason or another, i resort to running indoors.

on the treadmill.

the DREAD-mill.

the fresh air that fills the skies and my lungs is replaced by the stale, recirculated air of the YMCA (a place that i LOVE, mind you, but mostly for the people there, not the aromas wafting through the air ;).

the 'music of the spheres' that draws me into engagement with the experience is drowned out by something propulsive pulsating from my iPhone through my earphones and penetrating into my skull to help me pass the time as i stare aimlessly out the window, jogging in place, lost in space.

when i run inside, i feel like i'm a hamster trapped on a wheel. and i'm actually GOING NOWHERE.

(Transplant this pic indoors onto a treadmill,
and you'll get the gist of my general disposition in that setting)

i don't LOVE it.

i just DO it.

but in the just-DOING, i've discovered something about just-BEING in both.

outdoors, although i journey all around my neighborhood in awe and awareness of what's around me, and tracking in tempo with what's within me, i still start and end at the same location. my journey to SOMEWHERE ultimately leads me NOWHERE in the bigger picture.

which is my biggest beef with panting-in-place indoors on the treadmill.

going NOWHERE.

but when i'm indoors, although i'm not serenaded by the breeze and the birds and the rush of the river, but rather by Neil Peart's propulsive percussion or Chris Squire's driving bass or Tony Banks' swirling keyboards or Pat Metheny's shimmering guitar, while my body is basically going nowhere, my mind, heart, spirit and imagination are soaring far beyond the antiseptic environs of the gym.


so maybe there isn't as big of a difference between the two as i originally imagined.

in both, by the sheer act of running, your inner journey is given some space to roam (if you want to), to explore, to reflect, even to rest, to travel to places known and unknown.

in both, whether you're jaunting around town outside or jogging no-place fast inside, you end up right back where you started.

in both - imaginatively, emotionally, spiritually - you are going SOMEWHERE.

in both - physically and geographically - you are going NOWHERE.

in both, you are gifted with the experience of leaving and arriving SOME WHERE.

in both, you are graced with the realization that you are NOW HERE.

in both, the beginning leads to the ending.
and the ending is a brand new beginning.

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