Running at night in the cold…
This is an excerpt from a journal I started during a winter vacation to a childhood stomping ground. I had started running in earnest only a few months before, and to this day, these sentiments reflect my love of movement and exhaustion. It is a constant search for peace and quiet and a life-long lesson in appreciating moments and impermanence.
The runner emerged from his self-imposed exile under the canopy of tropical flora. His good friend the Moon greeted him as his random trail had once again turned him South. He was heading through the town’s center, upon different streets of course. The bulbs bare in the trees emulated the Moon in shape and pallor — a gesture the Moon seemed to accept with much satisfaction as it beamed even brighter. It may have been a wisp of cloud or other odd celestial trick, but the runner could have sworn he saw the Moon smile. If only for an instant, he saw upon the lunar surface jovial eyes and a warm, knowing grin. It was a face proud and content — to be and to be worthy of imitation.
He crossed over the town square — a grass amphitheater that served as the where to so many memories. A miracle of temperature or grounds-keeping, the grass was as green and soft as he ever remembered. The runner was wearing down, and if he had come upon the lawn a minute later, he may very well have collapsed into the billowy fronds and made his bed with Mother Nature.
He endured and crossed the main road dissecting the square from the shore. He ran up the wooden ramp, under the giant seagull, over the rigidly-protected dunes, down the opposing ramp, and out onto the sand. By this time, the Moon — his friend and companion on this late-night run — was hovering full over the sea, the waves beckoning high to its gravitational call. It was finally there, at the edge of the world, he stopped.
He gasped…née, he heaved the used air out and with equal force attempted to inhale every bit that was lost. The temperature had dropped even lower, and his foggy breath gave the impression of a blown smokestack or a radiator on the fritz.
Moving from his own billowing cloud, he began pacing up and down the beach, right where the water stopped on its incessant battering of the sand. He waved his arms through the air: out-front of his torso; elliptically from his sides; and above his head — all as if he was signalling for rescue from a deserted island, as if he was wanting to be seen.
His breathing normalized, yet his body temperature remained elevated. The cold air felt great, and the sea breeze in his lungs was enough reminder to why he ran, that night, or on any night, or during any day. The consciousness of that sea breeze in his his nostrils, within his lungs, upon his skin was intoxicating. He merely wanted to feel, feel on a deeply detailed level, to be so in-tuned with his body. From every ache to every relief, he wanted to know to the precise atom what his body was going through. He wanted to know where it stood with regards to nature, obstacles, and limits. Perhaps he believed that if he knew himself physically, the mysteries of his own internal nature would reveal themselves. If he knew what he could and could not do, maybe he could find out what it was he wanted. It wasn’t an effort to limit his horizons but merely to draw lines of demarcation.
The water was sparkling, and he sat down on a bank of sand to more properly appreciate the sight. The Moon now looked white hovering over the sea. It was full, perfectly round, as if imitating a frisbee that had been tossed into the air but had never come down.
Natural ripples and disturbances upon the ocean and especially its ever-charging tide inhibited a perfect reflection. For onlookers like the runner, it made the scene all the more beautiful. The Moon’s luminance upon the water’s jittery surface appeared mosaic, fractured, as if Picasso was painting and repainting on canvas. It was like a cycling scene of hellos and goodbyes — fleeting and returning.
The runner looked in peace upon the silent visage. He had no thoughts of those beyond the beach, let alone of those beyond the town. He was content, staid by the synchronicity of motion of the waves breaking two feet in front of him and the regularity of his own breath. To look at him, one may believe him to be praying or meditating. But he offered to the heavens and to himself neither amen nor mantra. All he was doing was looking and breathing. The setting said enough.
But as all things must, the scene had to end. He sighed, pushed himself up from the sand, and brushed off his backside. He started off back toward the bungalow.