Running Still

I might be a revision junkie. I reread yesterday’s post and saw necessary changes. I’m not revising the entire post, but here is one paragraph that deserves better:

We have sweet spaces of time built for daydreaming and thinking. In college I began running longer and longer distances, mapping twenty-mile routes through the middle of nowhere. I ran with a tape deck once because my CD player wouldn’t fit in my Camelbak. Yes. A dubbed tape. But aside from that anomaly, my long runs were open to whatever thought flitted through my mind. I counted to a thousand, and then back down. When I started using the time to think about pieces I had in workshop, running and writing became more tangibly connected.

Nothing terribly wrong. But like I said, this paragraph deserves better. I skipped over the center of it: that running gave me space to space out. That’s it, really. So why mention the one long run with a dubbed tape? Oh, and I don’t like the word “flitted.” I don’t know why I used it. Maybe some thoughts flit, but a lot land with a thud or peek around the corner.

So I spent about forty minutes thinking and writing about when I returned to running in college and what made that routine such necessity. I’ve written about my running before. This may be another start:

In college I began running longer and longer distances, mapping twenty-mile routes through the middle of nowhere. I drew maps on notebook paper and copied road names from the Gazetteer, consulting the note at dead intersections of farmland and sky. The running, even shorter distances in town, gave me undistracted time to think. I counted to a thousand and then back down, again and again, counting with my breath. I took interruptions.

Running and writing connected. I had a classmate who said she composed the best forgotten essays on her marathon training runs. Running was a piece of paper and pen, an hour or so to write, cross-out, rewrite, find the best word. I found and lost poetry on road and trail. I gave characters an audience and went home with the next scene for a workshop piece.

I also had a lot I didn’t want to think about. I was hearing truth, but not listening. Running took me far away from campus and my house. I hit my stride, thinking or not thinking. I found stretches of abandoned road and stopped to stare at the telephone wires. I might stand in one place, listening, for ten or fifteen minutes, sweat drying as salt on my brow. I remembered the goodness of being quiet.

This practice became necessity. I started praying again; I wanted to hear God. Running became my way of being still and knowing. Running with only your heart and mind to hold is as meditative as sitting still. There is something spectacular about working your body, finding a steady pace, and letting your thoughts come and go.

Better, yes?

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