Have you ever fallen in love slowly? I think it’s like that. Did you notice how the gradual made it more intentional?
Running didn’t take for me at first. For those first months it was more a begrudging exercise in futility than my relaxing hour away. As I slowly committed to a new routine that included running, I realized there would be many things we’d learn about each other in the process. These would come in their own time, each teaching a different lesson. Sometimes the hard would sneak up on me. Sometimes sweat would produce a radical, unquenchable sense of euphoria. A bend in the road might solve a problem that had been circulating for weeks.
It started out as an itch. Many big decisions have. A nagging, almost subconscious prickling to disrupt the status quo.
The itch gave way, ever so gently, to subtle admiration. As miles accumulated and new itches spawned entries into distance runs and trail runs, I was slowly learning to negotiate the changeful habits of running, of getting to know the person I was when I ran. Over the years, we unlocked something together.
Now, on good runs, the car engines and thudding bass notes gradually blend into the chorus of my chest cavity. The neighborhood noises join the gentle rhythm of respiration, and somewhere out there, the garbage truck and the birdsong and the lawnmower and the breeze through the branches start to push their way into my steps – like bursts of speed spread out over the sound waves, spilling me into the next mile, and another one after that.
I still can’t account for the itch. Maybe it has a will of its own, maybe that will is mine, or maybe it’s just an itch. I don’t pretend to know anything about it. Maybe I don’t need to. The only thing I can be sure of is that without it, I would never have eased into such a deep affection for something so challenging and so rewarding.
As I ran out the other night considering the many things I could write about that I feel gratitude for, I realized, it’s the itch. That weird little prickle that moved me to action. That led me to do something, many things, I was too afraid or too cautious to do without it.
In addition to that inexplicable, gorgeous itch, I have a hard time narrowing down the things that make me thankful. Blame that on running and its ability to keep me focused on every last one of them.