Thursday, March 22, 2012

Run for Your Life

Sometimes you just need to run for your life.

I am in no way a proficient runner. With bad posture, a titanium rod running the length of my left femur, and two screws lodged solidly in my knee, the act of running is a burden and a continuous inventory of the premature malfunctioning of my twenty-six year old frame. Add to this the fact that I am deceivingly out-of-shape for my slight and wiry stature, and one might wonder why I would run at all.

To clarify, I do not run on a regular basis. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I have ran in the last year.

But sometimes, running is the only option.

* * *

The last few weeks have presented a number of frustrating challenges and realizations for myself and for my family, and processing these issues has proven to be a difficult tribulation. My normal methods of analysis when approaching the challenges of life include using logic, reason, and a utilitarian review of the costs and the benefits. But it seems that every time I believe that I have mastered an obstacle through logic, a new snare appears. This cycle of cat and mouse has been especially antagonizing for the past few weeks and this week my capacity for logical alleviation was exceeded.

What I think I look like
As I attempted to process the anxiety that accompanied this new wave of trials, I could feel a physical reaction to the stress I had been experiencing. Adrenaline began pumping through my arms and my legs. This chaotic energy replaced the traditional stoicism that generally blankets my body as I weighed my options. Though I attempted to maintain my compusure as I discussed with my wife the issues that had been plagueing our familial bliss, my mind was racing. I struggled to focus on the fleeting vestiges of ill-fitting solutions to our lot, but nothing would reassure me.

After feigning composure throughout the evenings sequence of mundane activities, I saw an opportunity to relieve my anxious cells of their pent up zeal as my wife prepared for bed. I told her that I was going for a run, and she gave me a look that was equal parts suspicion and curiosity. It was clear to her that something was amiss. Why else would I want to run?

* * *

Standing in the cool spring air, I meekly stretched with ignorant inefficiency, then began my trot to the soothing sounds of Bon Iver through my headphones. Unsure of my route, destination, or goal, I padded through the winding suburban streets, trying to clear my head and distance myself from the emotions that were wreaking havoc on my psyche. I egged my stiff legs on, past their initial pleas for rest, focusing on the beat of the music rather than the soreness of my joints. I let problems rattle about my head, disallowing my brain to latch on to the issues, thereby removing the temptation of emotional anxiety.

A more accurate portrayal of my running
I ran through dark swaths of sidewalk and grass, striving to see and attempting to avoid low hanging branches and uneven cement. I ran until the pain in my lungs and the pain in my heart were soon indistinguishable. I ran until the throbbing in my skull overwhelmed the swimming of my mind. I replaced the mental duress and emotional anguish with physical exhaustion. I forced the survival mechanisms of my carcass to divert the energy it had been devoting to anxiety and redirect it to the work of keeping this complex ramshackled existence of tissue and bone from going feet up on some dark suburban thoroughfare.

* * *

When I finally stopped running, I was on a vaguely familiar street, so I began walking down the road. In high school I was taught to never stop moving after a run, lest you cramp up. I walked for a few blocks, until I found another vagueley familiar street and began my return journey. By the time I was within sight of the house, my whole body was alive with the burning sensation of pure exhaustion. I harassed the last reserves of energy left in my being and I clomped the final steps up to the house, arriving at the front steps. I pulled out my notebook and penned the finl remains of my anxiety into this essay.

I cannot say that my frustrations are now obliterated, but at least they are manageable.

...At least for now. 

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