When my body wakes me. It’s still dark.
I open the window above my bed. The whispering dawn snuggles down. Down into my hair. Down into the space between me and my sleeping bag. Which I sleep in despite the closet full of sheets.
The whispering dawn lifts me out. Out into my running shorts. Into my cheetah print bandana. Into my bright blue shoes. Into my head torch. I’m lifted out, to embrace the dawn. I’m taken to the end of the drive. I’m waiting for that car to pass.
Up the hill, climbing the hill, feeling my knees. Feeling my knees which feel stronger than yesterday—maybe that’s in my head—and I’m swishing my arms and I’m breathing. I’m breathing, headlights cast my shadow, I say hello, a car whooshes past, I’m breathing and climbing and pumping and—
long stretch, long and twisting, down the hill. My legs arc out, my breathing grows quiet, I’m swinging more gentle, more loose. I feel strong and wild–like the parts of me I’m learning to let go are decomposing as I watch. Like it’s all becoming fuel for who I shall become; and thus the parts of me that do not serve me are serving me still.
As I run. And watch.
I know this route. I know the mile markers. Markers from days when I waited for my watch to confirm gps signal.
I run up the hill, I climb, and pant—then I glide, and turn, and twist. Then I climb, over gravel, run on the right side here, in this clear patch, then leap to the left as I turn, to avoid the huge chunks of rock, the mud puddle there. I say hello to the purple chickens that rake across the entrance to Dreaver Road.
I know this route.
And still: it is different. Every time. Because I am different every time.
Today, as I leap, as I glide: I am a human animal. Blemished with faint stars, like the dawn, which sweeps above me.
I climb up Dreaver, and the arch on my left foot starts to pant with my breath, and I’m thankful for the throb, for the reminder, for the feeling that this is what it’s like to compost. I throb and pant and smile and I climb, climb to the top, get to the top and—
breathe, looser; twisting down, swinging more gentle.
The dawn is fading and ebbs of pink cast my shadow faint. I say hello, and I hear a response.
I touch the mailbox, and swivel on my feet, my pulsing ankles. This part goes like a waterfall; I barely begin to turn around before I’m turning left onto Isla Road. Headlights cast a fainter shadow, and I seem to hear everything. The call of sunrise birds announcing fatherhood, the distant car approaching, my heart beat pump to the beat of my soles.
In my bird whistle world, my heart beat world, I hear everything.
The nothing matters; equally so.
The nothing prepares a way for self-belief. The nothing reminds me that I am my advocate, my own supporter.
This call and response, this stillness, this ebb of sunrise—this is what running has become for me. Is becoming. A way to feel my own life force. To hear a cavern devoid of disappointment. To compost myself. Transforming into workable soil.
Writing does this for me, too. When I am writing, I am released from the karmic circle. I cease to participate in a input-output gain, no “I am good to receive good”, just “I am me.” Natalie Goldberg wrote, “you’re never free unless you’re doing your art.” Freedom is not about doing whatever you want. I’ve got that part down. I’m still working out what freedom is.
But I’m finding what it feels like. It feels wild and blemished and soft.
“Finding” is the wrong word for it. It’s not something lost. Not a damsel in distress. It is cultivated, perhaps.
So I’m cultivating. Composting.
Peace and blessings,