Friday, December 4, 2009
I Learned to be Still
One of the things I enjoy most about running is the utter, complete and transforming power of stillness. This was not an automatic pilot sort of thing; based on my past running experiences, almost all of which centered around a goal of creating fitness as a sidebar to soccer playing or skiing. Running was a chore that had to be done as part of the process to achieving and feeding my naturally competitive nature. Thus, I did not, and never intended to enjoy running as a sport of choice like some crazy people I knew and know. I changed my mind one freezing cold night.
When Wolf was here, our home was a cacophony of words. Talking, reminding, cajoling, and yes, shouting all presented an environment of unrest and confusion. One snowy night I took to the streets in an effort to simply take a breath and get out. And something happened.
With no distractions, everything became simple. The snow simply fell, the dark simply closed around me, and my breath simply went in and out in a quiet rhythm only my body knew. So I ran on. And I felt better when I arrived back home almost an hour later, legs quivering and eyelashes white with frost.
I had forgotten about the act of being still; of listening to and becoming a part of every little and big thing around me, and what those things might be able to say without any words at all. Stillness has become precious.
This morning I ran a forested trail just around daylight. At about 12 degrees, the snow was dry and creaked beneath my feet. My breath clouded the air in front of me and froze on my face; my jacket swoosh-swooshed with every stride I took. Every sound came from me and my presence in this vast outdoor space.
Then, from a tree somewhere in front of me, I heard the unmistakable chortle of a bald eagle who had seen me coming and announced his presence. The sun peeked over the Chugach mountains as this enormous bird and I stared at each other for a minute or two, then I ran on.
And he, too, was still.