I run for many different reasons. Some days I run to solve problems, to think things through. Other times it’s to burn off steam after a particularly long or frustrating day. I run to escape, for privacy. I run off excess energy. I run so I can eat more ice cream or have another beer. I run because I have a little extra time. (Ok, yes, it is more likely I forgot to do something. I’ll remember it in a few miles. It’ll be too late. May as well finish the run.)
Each run is shaped by its motive. It feels different, I perceive the world differently, the intensity of my effort varies. I’ll run further for beer, run faster if I’m angry, longer if I need to think. If I’m lucky, every now and then, the run becomes something else. It becomes that essential run that is more than any other reason why I run.
The Essential Run is a mythical creature. It is a run I cannot simply choose to go on. It cannot be conjured or forced. It starts as some other kind of run, born out of necessity or will. After a mile or two, without warning, it emerges. I find myself in what I can only call a meditative state. Thoughts gently come, light as leaves. They settle, barely touching the surface of my consciousness. As ripples on a pond, they well up, ebb and fade. Nothing, big or small, requires my attention. All things are equal. All is nothing. A body moves across the earth effortlessly, it is not mine. I am not compelling it. I am not a passenger, merely a passing thought. I am a breath, that is all.
I close my eyes and I am the cosmos, expanding with the beating of my heart.
I open my eyes and I am home, a sweaty man… oh, right, I forgot to do the laundry.