I wrote this essay about a year ago and published it on my old blog. I decided it was time to shake the dust off and give it some life again. 🙂
Yesterday I woke up and it was gray. A gray October morning, with some color on branches that were shaking their leaves off in the crying sky. I came downstairs, sleep still hovering in my body, and blindly made a cup of tea that I prayed would wake me up. But I knew waking up would come soon enough anyways, once I put my best friends on my feet and headed out the door.
Running is like that. Solid. Honest. I know that even on gray and rainy mornings, the roads don’t melt. They will hold me even when I can’t do it myself.
And so I run.
Yesterday I ran to find something. Peace, I think. I wanted to feel a quiet in my stomach, a settled calm that can be distressingly elusive. It doesn’t always happen as soon as my soles hit the streets, but it did this time. I needed a release that only winding roads with yellow stripes and New England trees could give me.
As I ran, I argued with myself. Made mental lists and calendars, moved some things to the backburner and more to the pot of vegetables that needed to be cooked that day. Stewed within the next six hours.
Cooking can be so overwhelming.
Two miles in, I had forgotten I was running and remembered every little thing I failed to do in the last month and every little thing I had yet to finish for the next week. My body just kept going, because that’s what runners (and stubborn people–yes, I am both) do. A real test of my stubbornness was about to be be unleashed, as the light drizzle suddenly turned into a downpour so heavy it blinded me. I couldn’t even keep my eyes open beneath the gallons of water rushing my head. Determined, I kept going, tackling small floods and rivers erupting under my feet and filling my sneakers.
After a few minutes of constantly wiping my eyes, I stopped and took refuge under a pine tree. There I was, 9 am and soaked to the skin, frustrated that I had to stop running because it meant it was going to take me an extra five minutes to get home and get to work. I was worried about five minutes.
I stayed by the pine tree for a while, curled under the branches and pathetic against the rough trunk. I peered up at the sky and saw nothing but dirty white clouds. This rainstorm wasn’t letting up anytime soon. And so I started to laugh.
Okay, God, I hear you. You are rarely subtle with me.
I came out from under the pine tree, wiped my eyes, and kept running. Ten pounds heavier with water, half blind in sheets of rain, and there was nothing else to be done. No cell phone and no one else home, I was responsible for getting myself there.
As I ran up the biggest hill in the neighborhood, the floods were really coming down. Cars rolled by and I am sure the drivers were thinking, She is crazy.
They’re right. I am crazy.
But not crazy enough to hide under a pine tree until the clouds let up. The thing is, they might never let up. Or they might clear within minutes. You don’t know, and waiting around for someone else to stop the rain is kind of a waste of time.
Taking refuge under a pine tree is a good thing, but only when you need to clear your eyes.