William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Movement, Breath, Miracle

In the canyon this morning, we were passed in small groups by three or four dozen runners preparing for trail events in November. Their ages spanned decades, and they were all happy, friendly, and smiling, and courteous to those of us walking, giving us ample warning of their approach from behind, thanking us when we had already noticed them coming and had stepped out of their way, and telling us when other runners were not far behind. All of this took place in the glorious company of a rushing stream, yellowing maples, and falling leaves. There has been more rain, and the falls are roaring again. Everything is saturated — every rock and twig in the path, every fern, every inch of ground, every clump of moss fallen from sodden limbs above.

The components of exercise are really very simple and few: movement, breathing, and the joy one takes in the miracle of having a body. The added ideas of success and failure, loss and gain, make the body a kind of adversary or enemy which must be overcome — in other words, what begins as a natural, spontaneous process, becomes work instead of play. Diet, too, can be viewed in this light. The same outlook poisons art, and reduces it to commerce. The effort involved, even if ultimately exhausting, need not be a form of punishment; it can exalt, heal, and cleanse.

October 23, 2021


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