glory day

 

Morning_Grass_for_GLORY_DAY_ 80percent
I walk slowly, precisely, in my comfortable old pants and t-shirt and my brand new running shoes, placing one foot carefully in front of the other as I make my cautious way through the park, the just-risen sun shining full on my face.

The sky is cloudless on this beautiful July morning, the grass under my feet green again after a long bout of dry weather that was finally relieved by yesterday’s rain.  The field is resplendent as the sunlight sprinkles the wet grass with backlit diamonds.

Suddenly I’m struck by a sense of the “nowness” of this brief slice of time—what Buddhists call “suchness.”  An instant of pure, numinous experience, as though I’m tiptoeing into the presence of Spirit.

Jogging Woman - attribution
Photo credit: Sangudo via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC

The moment passes, and suddenly I’m reminded of the young woman I was some forty years ago, who ran in the mornings for exercise–and more often than not for the pure, unadulterated pleasure of it.

I didn’t race; I never formally trained to be a runner.  Far too shy to try to jog outside where I could be seen, I began by shuffling around my basement to see if my body could become comfortable with the act of running.

After weeks of practice, I felt ready to try a little walk/jog around my neighbourhood.  Soon my walk/jog became a habit, and before long the day came when I managed to jog all the way along my usual route.  Soon the route became longer, and then longer again.

I set a schedule for my runs, early mornings being the best.  First of all, I’m a morning person, and secondly because, although he was sound asleep, there was an adult in the house in case the children woke up early.

My body responded well to these early morning runs, and they seemed to set a healthy tone for the day to come.  Even better, I had discovered that because of the running, I could eat pretty much whatever I liked without gaining weight.  How much more satisfying could exercise get?

There were times, of course, when I felt tired and didn’t want to be dragging myself out of bed to hit the sidewalk; but by now I knew that no matter how hard it was to get out there, no matter if my body was unwilling or my mind out of phase with the rhythm of a particular run, invariably, by the time I was back home, I was glad I had done it.

Fast Run border attribution needed
Image Courtesy of Triathlete.com

But the absolute best runs of all were those unexpected times when, nearing the end of a normal run, I’d suddenly find myself bursting with energy and propelled into running as fast as my feet could carry me, every joint and muscle in my body moving like a well-oiled machine, fulfilling its promise of power and endurance.

No more little discomforts; no more saying to myself, “Nearly done now.”

Surely my feet were no longer touching the earth; I was flying like a human kite!

Ah, what bliss, those times when I was hit with what I later learned was a blast of the endorphins that cause the well-known runner’s high. I know was certainly high!

As I continue my slow walk across the park this fine morning, watching my pace so that I don’t get out of breath, I muse on the contrast between those years of physical freedom and this turtle-like pace I maintain to keep the chest pain at bay.  I know that these health problems, frustrating as they are, are little more than trivial inconveniences in the greater scheme of things.

At nearly three score and ten years of age, my body is beginning to reflect the impact of those years—but my mind and heart (the metaphorical one, anyway) are nearly as young and resilient as ever.

half full ADJLife, even with all its ups and downs, still intrigues and fascinates me.  I’m curious about the world and everything around me, just as I was when I was much younger.

In fact, tucked inside me is an outlook that is nearly as optimistic as it was when I was just starting out.  Even tempered as it may be by experience and age, my little glass is still, more often than not, half full.

I’m happy.

As I make my way back home, it occurs to me that I’m quite pleased with today’s effort. There’s some pain from the exertion, but not as much as I had expected. Soon, perhaps, I’ll be able to walk longer, faster.

For now though, with the sun at my back and a light breeze fresh against my skin, I’m filled with the simple joy of being alive on this brand new summer morning.

Namaste,
Susannah

 

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17 Comments

  1. ❤ I would still like to run a windy, rocky, dusty trail again, and I can "train" toward that (the glass is half full) but I know that what's GREAT for me now is 10+ "miles" on my Airdyne stationary bike and an evening walk with Dusty and Bear. Of course, winter will come and the good times again 😉 I love this post.

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    1. Oh my, trail running….it’s glorious, isn’t it? I used to run, back in the 80s, along one of several trails in the woods near where we lived. Then we moved and I had to run in the suburbs. But even then, the early morning skies would often capture my interest, or the occasional skunk or rabbit or raccoon would cross my path if I was running early enough in the morning. In fact, one morning I actually saw a fox crossing an intersection about half a block from me. I was so astonished I just about fell over. Of course we were right on the outskirts of town then; nowadays the city has built up around us and the animal population (apart from those that have adapted to living alongside humans) has just about disappeared – SIGH.

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      1. Did you know that some of my ancestors came from Ontario? I only recently learned this! In California I ran in the late afternoon/evening in summer. My system is such that if I ran in the morning (or ride my bike) I waste the few hours in which I’m able to think :

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      2. Ah, so it’s possible you have a drop or two of United Empire Loyalist blood in your veins. Many of the early settlers to Canada were from what is now the UK, and my own lineage is mainly Scottish and Scots-Irish with a touch of Welsh and Brit. Culturally, Ontario is a mix of everything under the sun nowadays, which I believe is an improvement, although the growing pains aren’t always necessarily easy.

        Ideally, mornings are my doing time. Once the afternoon rolls around, my body thinks it’s going to take it easy and enjoy something sedentary. [Or at least that’s how it is for me biologically and in an ideal world; in reality, the important things get done when they have to be done, of course. For instance, my writing time has evolved to take place in the early morning hours due to insomnia and other realities of life.] 🙂

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      3. I have a lot of British ancestors, not including the Irish. My Ontario ancestor was a Scot. He married a Finn. They had a daughter who married my Irish great-granddad who worked on ships in the lake — and that is something I wish I knew more about. The Irish great-granddad married a beautiful Swedish girl who was raised with the understanding that she was descended from Lief Erikson.

        On the other side, the original American ancestor was in the battle of Dunbar, captured, sent to the West Indies, then Maryland as a prisoner of war… OH the happy stories. The descendant of THAT guy married the woman who is the descendant of the people I’ve written of in Savior and The Brothers Path. In between them and her was a whole rash of people from all over Europe — mostly Switzerland and Britain — so according to Ancestry.com’s genetic wisdom I’m mostly descended from people of the various British Isles with 1/3 of me being Leif Erikson. 🙂

        My Chinese brother — not adopted by MY parents, more like I was adopted by HIS — lives in Ontario. ❤ He's a wonderful, wonderful man. He took care of us when my ex and I were in China. He suffered a lot as a teenager during the Cultural Revolution — because he was intelligent he was sent to north China to make machine parts in a dark factory for five years. He learned English from Voice of America, and when he was "rehabilitated" he got a job at my college as the "guy who looks after the foreign teachers."

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      4. Wow! You have the makings of some great stories in your family tree.

        As far as I know, I don’t have any illustrious people in my family history, which I can only trace back to their various emigrations to Canada around the 17th Century. My late French-Canadian mother-in-law’s ancestors, however, go back to the 1500’s in France.

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  2. Like both of you, I ran in my younger days, the most successful years when I lived on Beacon Hill in Boston. I would run down the hill to the Esplanade and run loops around the Charles River, distance measured by which bridges I crossed. When I moved to the suburbs, running was difficult in the winter. No sidewalks, streets narrowly plowed, no sun when I got home from work. Weekends running was never enough to keep me in shape, until my office moved to a place with a shower. Then I ran around historic sites of Concord, over the battle bridge and through the streets. Once I went to Thoreau’s Walden Pond, and barely made it back in time to shower and meet a client.

    Now I walk, and I’ve just bought a real bike. But nothing compares to those days you brought to mind with your description of your good running days. Sigh. Aging has it good and bad qualities, but still…I’d rather be running.

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    1. It sounds as though you had some lovely places in Boston in which to run, even if you had to endure times when you could only do it on weekends. I ran on city streets too, when I had to, although it was always more pleasant running in parks and woods. My daughter is training for the 2016 Toronto Marathon several months from now, and I must admit I wish I were able to train with her. I never ran a marathon, so now I’m doing it vicariously through her!

      These crone years are the richest of my life in ways that I never imagined, but the physical losses are definitely not something to celebrate. Finding ways to overcome is the name of the game these days.

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  3. I listen to music that evokes trails and dust and the “good ol’ days” and enjoy the fact that my body does not know the difference between my Airdyne and a hard run on a rocky trail. Here’s my favorite song in the whole world. Running Up that Hill by Kate Bush. https://youtu.be/wp43OdtAAkM I heard or read somewhere that dogs can’t hear music and I KNEW that was BS. So, I “tested” it by playing this song in the last 20 minutes before we headed out the door to go on a hike. They KNEW very quickly that song meant we were going running up that hill (with no problems). They would dance and go to the front door and wait for their leashes.

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    1. Cats hear and enjoy music too – and I’d bet that all animals enjoy music if they have the chance to hear it. My son has two cats, and when they hear him playing their favourite tunes, they come into the room to listen. So cool!

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      1. I’ve had dogs who loved Vivaldi. One of my dogs KNEW that “Blue Sky” by the Allman Brothers was “her” song. I don’t think humans give animals half the credit they deserve. 🙂

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      2. My son loves jazz, and has become quite a large collection in many styles. I love the laid-back jazz he tends to play as background music, and apparently the cats do too – but I can’t remember the name of the particular piece they rush over to listen to. 🙂

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  4. I started running regularly back in about 1989, when I was 41. It became a need as time went on, I loved it and missed it if I didn’t go. I too loved isolated paths and quiet byways and tracks through woods. And just as you say there would be that burst of energy and exhilaration sometimes, at which point I’d shout inside myself (cus I didn’t want to scare the birds) ‘Why do I run? Because I can! Why do I run? Because I LOVE it!’ My knees aren’t as accepting of running now, and we’re about to sell the old treadmill and get a cross trainer (maybe that’s the same as an elliptical trainer). I want to exorcise the slothfulness that’s crept in and exercise the body again! Go for it Susannah!

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    1. Yeah, that wonderful runner’s high. Fantastic experiences, those are.

      Exorcise sloth and exercise the body are my goals too, although I have yet to step onto our elliptical trainer. It looks as though today may be the day though, because it’s going to feel like 38 deg. Centigrade out there according to the weatherman, and there’s no way I’m setting foot out in that. I’m not crazy about canned air, but I hate hot, muggy weather even worse. Wish me luck. 🙂

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