Run at the silver beach
It was 6.15AM when I woke up this morning. As I have seen with myself and have heard from others, the first thought that comes to your mind as soon as you wake up tends to influence your day disproportionately. This morning, even though it was a Sunday, I had this sudden urge to get myself out of the bed and to the silver beach. For many days I have thought about going to the beach in the morning and soaking in the fresh air without really having the sun in your eyes all the time. Since Silver Beach is on the east coast of the lake, my regular visits, which are typically in the evening turn out to be a UV replenishment exercise. Usually on weekdays I am in the office by 7.30 AM, so weekends are the only time to indulge in this early morning outing. But over the past 6 months…ok 3 and a half, discounting the cold winter months…I have got myself going only once before and on that occasion by the time I reached the lakeshore I couldn’t see anything due to the heavy fog that had set in. But not today. It was a clear and pleasant day and as soon as I got out of the house I was glad I did.
Another thing that has been bothering me is the feeling that I am not exercising enough. I hear most of my colleagues at work talking about where they ran and how much. Mark says one day he ran 10 miles in the morning before he got to work. (he could’ve very well left his car at home and come to work!). He and his wife go separately or if they are going together, their kids cycle along with them. Even the portly Jesus talks about running. He once said how he broke his own record by almost double and ran 10 miles since his wife forgot to come pick him up after his run and he had to run back home. Hearing all this, I also decided to just see how much I can run. Mark has always told me to start, but I have had my set of excuses. I have always told him that its bad for my knees running on concrete and he has suggested that I take an unpaved trail near my home in the Grand Mere park through a forested area. And I have told him that I don’t want to do that since I am weary of some bear popping out of the woods and eating me alive. “And what about snakes, leaches, wasps?” I have asked. And he has said “Oh yeah, flying squirrels too” and given up on that topic with me. Then he has told me how I could start cycling otherwise, and knew a place where someone was selling old cycles. I told him how statistics point out that cyclists are 50% more prone to accidental deaths than other road users. He has just given up altogether on me after that.
Back to SilverBeach this morning. I was surprised to see the place pretty much empty since I had expected to see some crazy fitness freaks running around like mad. I started my run near the entrance and ran down the pier. I had thought perhaps my thigh muscles would buckle up after a few steps but was surprised to find that I was able to cover that distance without really breaking a sweat. Of course, I was panting by the end of it, but that’s something I will need to build up over time. There were lot of people on the pier fishing. Some had come well prepared with a bucket and all the fishing gear. Some others had just come with the gear. Perhaps they were not expecting to catch any, so they didn’t need anything to throw their catch into. I admire their perseverance. There was an old man, looked to be in his 80s who was completely booted up and was patiently waiting for something to bait his line. Then there was another elderly man, also looked to be in the late 70’s early 80’s who was running. I saw him again about 2 miles away while driving back home from the beach 45 minutes later and he was still running. What torture people are putting themselves through, I can’t imagine!
On the way back from the beach I decided to take a detour and drive through some of the quiet and wooded neighborhoods around Stevensville. At this time of the year, you cant but notice the lush green trees and grass and fresh, crisp air. There are all these nice dainty houses with huge well-manicured lawns. Should be paradise isn’t it? But no, there seems to be something missing. At least from my perspective. If I need to find a single word to explain that feeling, I think “cold” would come very close. I have been trying to find out why and this what I think has led to it. In all this pretty landscape you hardly see any human beings around. These houses could very well be empty and haunted for all you know. The landscape can get really dreary in winter and it will be much worse than this. To calibrate my thoughts I have wondered if I feel like this since I am a stranger here and the real day to day life of a local family here is anonymous to me. I would also be biased by the surroundings I grew up in India where interacting with people is something you cannot avoid even if you wanted to. For example, how comfortable are they living in secluded homes? How secure do they feel living in isolation? Perhaps I am wrong, all these people have a large set of family and friends whom they meet regularly. But we would naturally doubt it, based on what you generally hear about in America. A view surely fuelled by what we see in movies, of stories about broken families and the lack of close relationships between parents and children.
My view has become a little bit more balanced now seeing all the people I know from here. Vaughn makes the 1000 mile round trip every month to meet his grandchildren in Cleveland. Mary doesn’t want to move out of Markoon since her sisters live there. Johnny makes a 6 hr roundtrip after half days work to pick up his grandchildren from Ohio for the holidays and take them to the water park in northern Michigan. Mike, a 25 year old, still lives with his parents. His father calls him up couple of times to check on his progress while we are driving back from Ohio. Mark and family drive to Washington DC to attend a reunion of his wife’s family. Jose always talks about his mother’s cooking and drives couple of hours to her place to drop his dogs off if he is going off for a few days. I know I am seeing only a sliver of the whole population here. A sliver that is educated and financially well off. But then based on what movies portray, many people I have met think all Indians still have toilets in the open, which is also not true. I wonder if they expect even someone like me to be struggling with basic necessities like that. Lets take the case of Mark. He has never been to India. Even though he is educated and used to dealing with Indians, I don’t know if he realizes that the quality of life I have in India is equal to or even better than what I could have here. So I believe the perceptions of each other are not completely accurate. What comes up is that there are different strata in both countries.
Sorry I am getting a little impatient to finish this piece, send it off and get on to other things. People might say that doesn’t augur well for a writer.