So You Run
So you run.
You run through forests with trees far older than you’ll ever be, yet silent and unnoticed.
That’s what happens to old things, you think.
You run through glens gutted by the glacial insistence of ice. Geological pressure that you can somehow feel, because you also feel the crushing weight of time.
You run through autumn’s fading greens and molten golds with the wind that soughs in the trees and your ears and your lungs.
You think about fear, and how you need it, because otherwise things soften.
And the light.
The light astonishes you.
You run because it makes you feel like fighting. Like not standing idly by as your life decays into the mushy pulp of car insurance comparison sites, swipe-down-refreshing, Sundays at Aldi, Continuous Professional Development.
Fuck all that.
None of that will come to mind as you reflect back on things done and undone. None of that will be remembered as you gasp your last breaths.
When you run, all of it falls away like flakes of ash twirling from a great fire.
When you run, it feels like you’re doing something worthwhile.
There’s a version of you that shivers at minor chills amidst four solid walls and a roof. You find this self vile. You hate the reliance on layers of comfort, built over years of swaddled nothingness.
Lately, you’ve felt the need to strip these layers away. It can be as simple as removing shoes and socks, then your shirt. This pulls you tighter to the air and the water and the hills, makes you secondary to them, puts you back in place. A tiny rebellion against the softening of your core.
Running like this is the only way you start to feel the fabric of the world.
You wonder how to communicate that. You wonder if you should say anything at all.
You move more carefully. Respectfully, even. You no longer pound over trails, snapping twigs and sending rocks spinning. Instead, your feet dab lightly, searching for softness. The trail leads you.
You’re slower with no shoes, but speed hardly matters. There’s greater economy in your movement. Contours propel you deftly from one footfall to the next. It’s the way animals move. You know this because you follow their trails sometimes. The graceful bulk of red deer leave lines for you to trace as you hunt their ghostly forms.
At times you will feel colossal. These moments are what you must return to as you sit behind a desk or wait in line, castrated by structure and routine.
Glimpses of more are found in the torrents that burst through the canopy and make you cry out with pleasure at the simple feeling of rain on flesh.
Later, when you get home, you will remove a thorn from your calf muscle, its full inch-and-a-half buried there, though you were not aware of it until the moment you found it.
You don’t feel cold or weak anymore.
How simple it all seems. The less you have, the more you feel.
It’s pathetic, really. You’re embarrassed by how soft you’ve become, how elated you feel by simply running barefoot and shirtless in the woods at night. But at least you’re doing something.
No-one tells you to run. No-one can. And if they did, you probably wouldn’t do it.
Running is yours to do as you like. It’s as yours as your voice.
Your feet beat the rhythms of your own vernacular. Your body lets you know how your mind feels. It might be screaming or weeping or yelling with joy, but it’s always yours.
The run is your choice, something you alone control.
So you run.