Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Showing Up

Usually on weekdays I get up early and walk around the Jerome Park Reservoir with my friend Stephanie and our dogs. It's just under two miles around, and while we don't power-walk it or anything that's still two miles I wouldn't be clocking if we didn't make a daily event of it. It's a good time of the day -- for half an hour or so every morning I can be pretty sure that nothing terrible is going to happen. We'll walk and talk, our dogs will sniff and pee, other walkers and joggers will say hi to us and we'll say hi back. I keep saying I'm going to bring my camera some morning, because there's always something of vague interest: a stretch of grass littered with notes passed in class and then dumped when school was over, a homemade cargo carrier made out of the basket of a shopping cart, lashed with rope to the roof of a dinged-up station wagon. But generally it's not a remarkable time, just a comforting one. Whatever else the day has in store for me can wait.

This morning Stephanie didn't come out, though, so Dorrie and I went alone, and I ran a good half of it. I used to run -- not long distances, but a few miles faithfully three times a week. I always really liked it. I don't enjoy many forms of enforced exercise, but running appealed to me from the start. Most of all, I think because there are so many ways to hurt yourself. You have to be extremely mindful and present in your body the whole time, thinking about the axis you're moving on and your breath and how your legs are extending and how your feet hit the ground, which bones and muscles and in what order. Something like a treadmill or exercise bike, where you could conceivably read at the same time, doesn't cut it in the same way. There's not the same occupation of my body and involvement with what it's doing -- to me it's like eating with a cold or going to a church service without believing.

I never pretended to be any kind of serious runner, and lord knows Haruki Murakami said it all a whole lot better than I ever will. But I liked it. Predictably, I did hurt myself, ending up with something strained on the bottom of my foot. Took it easy, fell out of the good habits, did something to another part of my foot, and so it goes. As soon as it became optional, I lost my discipline.

So it was nice to run a little today. I was just jogging, really, a languid trot that Dorrie could keep up with easily. But I was pleased to see that I had some leftover muscle memory and my body still did the right things, and I still had decent wind even with whatever's been sponging up my lungs for the past couple of weeks. It was a misty cool morning, and I came home sweaty and stretched out. And I got a hint of that old buzz -- because come on, anyone who knows me knows I'm always in it for the buzz.
It was good to remember that the distance between doing a thing and not doing it is actually small and reasonable, and that falling back into good practices isn't that much harder than falling out of them. That mostly it's about showing up.

Right now I'm swilling Nyquil straight from the bottle and trying to make sense of the extraordinary pile of BEA email in my inbox, but I figure I feel better than I would have if I'd slept that extra half hour this morning. I'll be out there again tomorrow, barring rain, walking if not running, but enjoying a half hour of grace before the day has its way with me.



Blogger Margarita said...

Lisa, this is so beautiful, you know I'm a runner, and I used to be out there really early at times, but only to train others. Still, that feeling of wonder in a quiet world not yet awoken is the most amazing thing. Now that I am connected to running through work, it's easy for people to say - of course you want every one to run, that's what you do for work. Thank you for reminding us all it's not that - it's about this mind body connection, the feeling of freedom and peace, the wonder of the world around you. And no, I cannot run with my dog - he'll pull me off my socks - maybe it's a good way to speed up for my next event :)

11:40 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

the distance between doing a thing and not doing it is actually small and reasonableOh...this is very good.

6:54 AM  
Blogger Devon said...

I love that thought too, and it got me on the treadmill today. :)

Do you feel the power??? You're changing people's lives! lol

8:20 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Devon, that was the perfect thing to end my day with -- thank you.

To all my commenters: You guys rock.

10:27 PM  

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