Anxiety – I have to run
Anxiety – I have to get up sometime soon, drop my interest in Julia Child’s Life in France and her passion for cooking
Anxiety – I have to get up and get out there
Anxiety – I have too much unfinished business
Anxiety – I gotta cook after finishing the run – should I skip the run today and keep it for another day?
Anxiety – Damn, I gotta get up and run!
Anxiety, that bane and yet quintessential part of our nature. Anxiety, that horrid feeling that I want to run away from, do something about it so that it goes away. Anxiety, that terrorizing terror that gets me to toss and turn and not rest in peace. Anxiety, that terrible beast. I laugh now as I write these words, not because the run helped me to tame my anxieties, but because it got me to watch my anxiety and slow my pace down – the just needed intervention from me. When you are anxious because you are far from your goal, when you have too much of unfinished business, slow down. The pace will come to you, you will breathe easy albeit slowly, and the ground beneath your feet will gain. Anxiety and pace was the one relationship I discovered today whilst running
The Ground Beneath Her Feet – I ran today, for the first time in all this time, with the ear phones plugged into my ears and the i-pod churning out music. Partly I did this to shut myself off from the world and not focus too much on the outsides. I thought that with the ear plugs in my ears, I would not be conscious of and attentive to the surroundings. But that is not entirely possible at 6ish in the evening when people are returning back from finished businesses. My breasts brushed against the breasts of another woman as I walked, I picked the smell of fish fry, the odours from the sewage water, I felt the dirt and grime that my feet were picking up from walk. I was fairly conscious despite the i-pod strategy. But the i-pod strategy helped nevertheless. It was a curious flow of music as I hit the beaten roads – the roads that were beaten down and tarred, no longer the gravel-ly roads that I had known around Maruti Dental College. Nonetheless, I hit the roads. The first 8 minutes of the run were amazing as the i-pod seemed to be tuned to my state of mind. The music and lyrics that came from the shuffles of the shuffling kept reminding me of the importance of will power, of “open your heart and test the limits”, of facing the severest tests of life. The idea is not to prove a point to yourself, but to develop the heart to go into the unknowns of life – that remains the real test of limits for me. Going beyond the limits is not about how much pain can you endure or what is the longest distance that you can run. It is about whether you can run despite the pain because run you must and running is what will alleviate your turbulent mind and soul. I began thinking about the monks that Santhosh and Murthy had once mentioned who run continuously for days on end, in the deserted deserts, in the harshest conditions. I realized that they are not doing this to prove a point to themselves. They are simply moving beyond the limits that we feel limit us. They are perhaps calling upon that which lies in the deep recesses of their hearts, their souls and this universe to run because run they must, because running is a kind of calling, because running is actually running into the unknowns of the world with the faith that when you run metaphorical and real ways will open up, that as much as you are running on the paths and roads you are simultaneously running retrospectively inside yourself, discovering that which lies within you but remains completely unknown … I ran today partly feeling that as I was running towards something, I was simultaneously running inwards, into myself, and discovering those fears and anxieties which bind and bound me. At one point during the run, U2 began blaring in my ears – The Ground Beneath Her Feet. I felt slightly amused because I realized that in a way, running is really about gaining ground in the face of uncertainties, pain, anxieties, joys, thrills, speed, pace, vara vara vara … The ground remained planted beneath my feet, and my feet were gaining ground as they bobbed up and down. I recognized how joyful I felt with every up and down stride that my feet were taking.
At another point in the run, almost towards the end, Enigma blared “open your heart, test the limits”. At that moment, I suddenly became mindful of my mind. It dawned on me that when the grounds of life are uncertain, when the paths are sticky, treacherous and cruel, the mind needs to take a backseat. The heart needs to be called upon. Faith is about the heart, not about the mind. Faith is not about rationality. It is irrational. Faith requires the courage to submit. Faith is that metaphor which I had once internalized in my life – jump off the cliff. You may fall and break your bones. Or you may land very much on your feet. Or, you will learn to fly. It is possibility of that possibility that I may fly if I let go from the cliff that eggs me towards perfecting my faith in a season of uncertainties and gloom. In a way, running is also a way to perfect faith, that faith that if you let go, you may slow down or, you may simply fly, outwards and inwards.
I am still running, outwards and inwards, despite the despites, on days that are gloomy, on days that are bright and sunny.
I am, I am as I run, I am more than myself when I run …
Running towards a season in faith’s perfection