(For a bit of a background: http://somethinggoodisgoingtohappen.com/2013/02/)
I did this routine below so much once that it became a recurring dream I have had for a year and a half now.:
An alarm goes off. It’s a pleasant sounding tune, but in the frustration to stay asleep, I hate it. I turn it off lest it continue to wake up my whole family.
It’s pitch black outside and for a minute I am hesitant to continue waking up. A flood of thoughts flow into my head: It’s scary looking out there. What if I get attacked? I have my phone. I won’t run too far. Should I take an alternate route? Maybe I should sleep in instead?
Eventually I get up. I pull on lycra running pants and a soft moisture wicking shirt. Then I find myself at my office chair, lacing on a pair of running shoes that I had ceremoniously laid out the night before. I have one more moment of hesitation before I put on my jacket and cap and think to myself: Since I’ve got all this stuff on now, there’s no sense in wasting time.
Outside, I take a deep breath and take in everything in the periphery, scouting every which way for a path.What is right in front of me is of little consequence since I’m not aiming for the present. I’m aiming for a finish. In the end, I chose a familiar route, for I know the time it will take me to finish and the challenges that might be presented to me if I choose to make a right or left turn.
Lifting one leg in front of the other and then the other in turn, I find my arms swing back in forth with my hands up in loose fists, moving in cadence with each step forward. My eyes are wide looking around and it’s calm all around. Light traffic and other runners pass me by. I spot a few cyclists going south to race along the windy lakeshore or their commutes to work. Early morning workout city is a strange kind of beast. The day is just beginning, but as I run, I realize that the day had never stopped.
I tense up and decide to tackle a hill. Speeding up I can already feel the predicted burn in my thighs and my glutes. My legs slow down with the effort of the climb, my lungs fill up way too much and I gasp a little. Remembering that every pain is temporary, I regulate my breathing and navigate the hill like a little train on a set track. There’s no going back. Just going up.
At the top of the hill, I keep running. In the horizon, there are rays of pink, purple, and gold bursting out between the clouds. The sun is rising. I run towards it in vain. I know I won’t reach it, but the sight plucks at something inside me. How the cloudy sleepy dark of the night can turn into so bright and clear a day; like a map of time being spread out before me.
I wake up around here. It’s a pleasant dream, but it’s been a bittersweet one for a while. I haven’t been running since last spring. This spring has hit now and the races have started again. I’m unable to participate as a runner. It makes me sad. Hell, I haven’t even been able to participate in anything that has involved much walking. I bike everywhere and to my bike I am grateful.
This past Wednesday I underwent a knee anthroscopy. After more than a year of physiotherapy, countless doctor’s appointments, and cortisone shots (it worked for just one day, but what a great day it was), a timeslot came up at the last minute for me to take. For my doctor, the surgery was a last resort. It was a test on my patience, but I did all the work I needed to prove that I had tried everything.
Preliminary MRI results and x-rays showed: osteoarthritis, two Bakers cysts, wear and tear under the knee cap and a lateral meniscus tear.
Dr. J. Chahal at Toronto Western Hospital and all the nurses and attendants were amazing. I was put under general anesthetic by a great anesthesiologist (who had a bit of a time trying to figure out what and how much to give me because of my small height). When I came to, a nurse and my parents helped me take my first steps.
My leg didn’t give out. That’s all I can say for now because I’m still healing up and I’m still working off the effects of painkillers. I am hopeful though.
Running is the same as walking, only faster and with more bounce. Everyone can do it and they do it every day. People run to the bus stop, to get the elevator, to get to their appointments on time, and after their pets. Running does a lot for me. It clears my ever clouded head. It relieves my body of stress. It keeps me fit. It keeps me sane. It is my vacation away from the daily grind of kids and work. Running is my escape.
It isn’t surprising to me to know that there are many writers and poets out there that run. Haruki Murakami said, “All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
For everyone it is different, but I guess with writing, it gives writers a clean slate. We are always looking for ideas or different ways of expressing ourselves. It could be in the pause of a breath as I’m sprinting, the feel of my arms heating up as I pump them willing my legs onward, or just the sight of that sunrise; a day is a cycle of endings and beginnings. Somehow my run is like the circuits of my brain are being manifested as streets and traffic lights. There are routes and hills everywhere I go, but only I can choose how to scale them, only I can choose where to go with them. A day about to start is the crisp white of a new page. A night ending is the black ink waiting to paint the page with possibility and expectation.
I’m almost positive it can be more complex for some of us and just as simple, or simpler for others. There’s definitely a synchronizing romanticism to running and writing, much like journalizing a quest. I would have blogged every day, but the danger there for me is in thinking too much. Writing elicits thoughts beyond the subject for me. I write in never ending streams which is why I have a habit of missing words or skipping punctuation, if I’m not careful. I fear that in writing it out, I will miss the steps, skip the exercises, because I’m impatient for the result: walking. Or I’ll go straight to running. Impatience is what got me hear in the first place. I must let this stream flow and savor each accomplishment now, no matter how small it may be.
There is a lesson of methodically working through things in here. It’s everywhere in what I do now.: The retyping and rewriting of a Joyce novel every day. The giant canvases I’ve been practising realism on require only a few strokes a day. My ongoing prose has taken the form of a literary dérive. I can stop to smell the roses, but I can’t stop while describing the roses. No. I must continue. Faithfully working towards a goal without knowing the result; this is my mind bender.
Today I made myself breakfast and went up the stairs with little effort. The pain I have left is soreness and I’m off my painkillers right now. I get the stitches out on the 29th (my birthday), and I’m looking forward to seeing what my leg will allow me to do. The nurses and doctors were saying that although I could never do another marathon, I could probably go for small runs. I could definitely continue cycling. They had no doubt I’d be able to walk without a limp.
I’m diagnosed with osteoarthritis and major depressive disorder (I like to call them bouts of depression…I neither feel major or disordered.), but that’s not going to stop me from living. Even if I have to modify details to do the things I would like to do, it’s just something else that needs to get done.
Plus, I can’t stop now. I’m “with book”, collaborating on a play, and I’m painting. So much work to get to, so much things to explore. So much reality in a day rife with possibility.