I don’t warm up before running. Where the street meets the bottom of our short driveway, I simply start in — slowly at first, and then, within the space of a few houses, I begin to pick up speed. From there on my speed varies. My stride is never large. My feet are always under my body, not ahead. My speed is increased by quickening my steps, and by taking more of them. This is not to say that I’m concerned about speed. I’m not. I’m not in training. I’m not getting ready for a running event. I have no intention to ever run in one. I’m not interested in competition, even competition with myself. There’s only one of me anyway. All of this me-and-I talk is simply a matter of descriptive convenience. Running is breath. Running is joy. I realize that it still can be in competition, but I’ve competed enough during my lifetime that the idea of winning, or setting personal records, or proving something to myself, simply has no appeal. I don’t mind the idea of running with someone. I also don’t crave it or feel the need. I like to be alone, although that idea is also rather narrow-minded, because when I’m out I’m also with the flowers, trees, and birds — I’m with the whole world, every speck and scent and grain, every star and every cloud. We keep each other company, and breathe each other into and out of our lungs. And so when I say running is joy, I mean it in an all-inclusive sense. Feeling joyful isn’t a personal victory, it’s a state of participation. Running, walking, cooking, cleaning, talking with a neighbor, even pain and loss — everything is joyful. If I weren’t joyful before running, and could only feel joy when I am running, what I feel while running might not be joy at all. It might be escape, or relief — which isn’t good or bad, necessarily, just something else. Something that ends. Something that, like any drug, feels good while creating its own terms, conditions, and needs. I don’t warm up before writing either.
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Categories: Sweet Sleep and Bare Feet