I run. I run on paved roads, I run on grounds, I run on trails. I run in the chirp filled early morning, I run in the heat of of the day, I run in the darkness of night. I run when it is freezing cold, I run when it is burning hot. I can’t stop running. Maybe I love it too much. Maybe it is an escape. Maybe I am afraid if I stop I’ll lose purpose in life.
I go through shoes faster than cereal boxes. Surprisingly I am more picky when it comes to cereal than shoes. I don’t want shoes with advanced chassis support or ultra open mesh or front padded collars. Or maybe I do and I just don’t know it. I buy whatever I find comfortable in the store. I am very practical that way. I once argued with a friend that I didn’t understand why he owned a flashy sports car if not for conspicuous consumption. To me the practical purpose of a car is to go from point A to point B. When he took me for a spin I realized the purpose of a car to him was much more than that. He thrived on the rush of navigating hairpin curves at death defying speeds. I had misunderstood him as probably many have misunderstood my irrational love for running.
Today I am up before the crack of dawn. I just need to wear my running vest and shorts, slip into my shoes and I am off. Nothing else. No phone. No music player. I like to soak in the sounds around me. Sometimes I wear a water belt if I plan on running long distances. Usually I just stop at water fountains along the way. Early on, when I started running, when it was a hobby and not a way of life, then I used to wear a pedometer. Now I don’t see the point of recording this statistic. I don’t have goals I am trying to achieve when I run. At least not in terms of distance. When I reached this realization is when I truly started to enjoy running.
I have to run on city streets for a short distance before I reach the closest trail. The only time I can find this bearable is before the city wakes up or after it sleeps. I myself drive to work every day, so it’s not a stone I am casting. It’s the unfortunate reality.
I run past a billboard that says Jesus Saves. It urges me to call 1-800-ASK-WWJD. What would Jesus do if He were running on empty at mile 42? Later I call that number. I reach the voicemail. God’s answering machine. I leave Him a message:
I have thought of you every day. Are you there? Show me a sign you are. Show me a sign you care. I still do.
On the trail I usually run into familiar faces. Today I run past Mr. O’Leander. He is an unending source of inspiration to me. He is close to 70 and has had a triple heart bypass. You would never guess looking at him.
I wave as I pass him. “Morning Kevin,” I greet him. “Taking it easy today?” I tease.
“Oh hi Bud. Yeah, I am saving some energy for the missus.”
“Hah. You need to let me in on your secret.”
“Drink plenty water and always nod your head in agreement.”
I am running all alone in the wilderness of a state park and I fantasize how it would be to live as a sole survivor in a post apocalyptic world … minus blood thirsty zombie creatures. On the plus side there won’t be a need to wear the most expensive watches or drive the flashiest cars or dress sharply because there is no one to impress. And on the minus side there is no one to impress. Maybe having zombies is not a bad idea at all. Might give some purpose in life. Will Smith’s character in the movie I am legend has conversations with mannequins. But there is only so much of mannequin conversation I can think of.
For once I am glad to be back in the civilized world and look at people around me, even if they are honking at me to get off the road. WWJD? He’d probably wave and keep going.
I stop at a cafe not far from home. I usually stop here, if it’s open, for a cup of coffee and a quick bite. I have an open tab here. That way I can run without having to carry cash or plastic. I know the owner, Mohsin. Mo is an honest, hardworking immigrant. He doesn’t understand why I run.
“In my country if anyone runs then it means someone is trying to kill him.”
Maybe if I sit still my idle mind would try to kill me. Mo gets me my cup of coffee and the day’s paper.
“Good day today,” he says.
Every day starts good, Mo. Like a new born babe. And every day my plan is to keep it that way.