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For the last month, I’ve not laced up my tennis shoes to go outside for a run. It is summertime in the desert and that means even at 5:00 a.m., the sun is already making plans for its red carpet arrival. When I wake in the morning, I surmise that it is too hot and fall back asleep.  As I write this, I think, this is an excuse. I could get up earlier or brave the sun for a brief period by cutting my runs a little short or even jog in the evening time. Instead, I retreat to the gym and hop on the elliptical or tell myself that I will venture outside once the weather gets cooler.

I’ve noticed, though, this month is filled with a heightened restlessness. My irritation increases over the slightest missteps. The sense of quiet is diminished. My writing suffers because I cannot gain traction on what I want to say. I focus on all of the “missing” parts in my life, whether it involves my role as a wife, mother, friend or writer. I am at odds with my self and I know the solution, yet I am reticent to move toward correcting my path.

For someone who needs calm, why do I step away from what nourishes? I mulled this question, but cannot answer it with the clarity that it demands. I am aware of the barbs of sadness that poke my insides. Although this kind of sorrow is not new to me, its jolt is more pronounced. Running offers freedom for those little earthquakes to dissipate and find a place outside of myself to land. It is more than just moving my legs and arms in unison, but literally it is the meditation I need for my spirit.

So much of my daily thoughts walk on the tightrope of the intense. I accept that this is an undercurrent of my personality, but I know too that there are speckles of undeniable joy, happiness and gratitude that are rooted in my personal landscape when I run. The blue sky, the pavement sprinkled with yellow flower petals, the rabbits scurrying to find refuge and the casual smile from a stranger are all my companions that accompany as I put one foot in front of the other.

When I am not running, I am not living my life to the fullest. The day moves under a haze. I think about Murakami’s words about running,

“Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole.”

I thought about how much I needed to read this passage again and it pierces and resonates in a way that I understand. The metaphor I’ve chosen for my life is to run.

I know what happens when I stop.

Image: “My footsteps” by nunavat via Flickr.

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