Do This Every Day
Tighten laces. Insert ear buds. Hit shuffle and hope you get lucky.
Take only the essential key off the keychain and leave the rest by the door. Lock the door then drop the loose key into your shorts. Be always mindful of it’s presence in your pocket, and know that you will not hear it hit the sidewalk should it fall out.
Walk out the exit and turn left as you step outside. Change the song; the first one has to be perfect. Change it again, that’s it.
As you turn the corner, begin. You might start too heavily, then overcompensate and move too lightly. Find the rhythm that will work today, because every day is different.
As you cross the first street, emerge from underneath the trees and appreciate the sun on your shoulders. Think of the coming winter, when you will crave the vitamin D that you’re enjoying right now. Cherish the warmth.
As you cross the second street, feel the first tendrils of doubt creep in. Go through the excuses as to why you may not be up to the task today. You ate too much, or you didn’t eat enough. You didn’t get enough sleep, you have to be somewhere later, or you don’t want to sweat.
Let the excuses pass through you, saying hello and goodbye to each one. Reassure yourself that today is better than yesterday, and whatever you’ve done in the past can be repeated in the present.
Cross the third street and enter the park. Look up at the tall buildings that surround you. See the glass that reflects the lake, or the church spire that pierces the sky. Appreciate your neighborhood and be proud of yourself for finding a home. Turn left and let your eyes stretch across the water, all the way to the horizon. Resist the urge to take a picture; get one on your way back.
Ahead, your path will turn sharply to the left as you plunge into the trees. The sun will still shine overhead, but you’ll see nothing but shades of green, divided by black asphalt. Run on the left side because the right side is uneven where roots burst through the pavement. The second song begins. Push your ear buds in tight, wonder why they don’t make earbuds that actually stay in your ear.
The green hues will darken as you head downhill. Ease back and keep your weight directly above your feet. Remember how your kneecap felt when you dislocated it for the first time.
Now look straight ahead as you emerge from the woods. Feel the sun again. See the water. Take stock of the other people on the path, but also look past them to gauge the speed of the cars. Decide if you need to pick up your pace to cross, or slow down and wait. Breaking the rhythm is undesirable, but often necessary. Consider yourself lucky when you can continue across the street without hesitation.
Step high over the first curb as you cross. Falling now is your biggest fear. Imagine something gruesome as you hop over the second curb: headlights in your face, an unfortunate fall and a grisly report in the local paper. As you leap over the third curb, let those fears wash away. They steer you in the moment but are useless afterward.
The sun is beaming down on you hard as every step brings you closer to the water. Feel the uneven ground beneath you as you abandon the pavement. You’ll move faster across the grass, you’ll work harder. Meet the sidewalk again and let it take you to the water. Look to your right and see blue. Look to your left and see green. Look forward and find today’s final rhythm. Stay with the beat as long as you can, until your brain tricks your legs into announcing their defeat.
When you can go no more, turn your head and locate the bench, the wooden one in the middle of the field. Now sprint towards it as fast as you can. It will be over soon, and the allure of that simple resting place will keep you going. Remember when all you wanted was an open field and a blue sky.
When you start to you hear your own heavy breathing over the music in your headphones, ease to a stop. You’ll sit down and spread your arms out as your try to catch your breath. You’ll tilt your head back and look back towards the city. Follow the skyline from one end to the other. Think of everything this town has to offer.
Now turn, and look back towards the lake. You’ll imagine an ocean, and picture yourself farther south or farther west. Recognize that right now you’re next to this lake, on the edge of this city, and you’ve still got your key in your pocket.