Running on the Beach: Reflecting On A Barefoot Way to Be, Live and Love
Eyes open, my mind is already racing. Nothing is right. If there was a wrong side of the bed, I woke up on it. I stayed up too late. The day is starting too soon. My body is stiff and sore, even though I slept well. I’m surrounded by people I love yet I don’t want to be around any of them. I’m tired, grumpy, and I want to be alone. I’m tempted to pout, to make others suffer with me in my day, to resign myself to the fate of other people’s choices and priorities even though I know I will hate myself for it. The first sane thought enters my brain: I need to go for a run. Now. Whatever anyone will think, from my wife’s concern of the time to my own concern of how I feel. I throw on my running shorts and sandals, grab a quick snack and am out the door.
Wincing as I trot down the sidewalk, I wonder, should I just walk? Should I go back? After a few blocks I’m at the beach. Ditching my sandals, I wander onto the beach and begin to feel a shift.
Wet sand squishes beneath my feet. My lungs expand, filling with the salty freshness of seaside air. The sun is up, clouds checker the sky. The morning is a gentle cool... perfect weather for a run. Let’s do this. My knees still hurt. The inflexibility of my legs is still painfully obvious. My neck is still sore. I’m still emotional… But with each step, my angst is drained from my body and imprinted on the sand. With each breath, I’m inhaling new life and possibility and exhaling frustration. Joy, curiosity and their close companion, wonder, begin to inhabit my being, taking the place of their antitheses. I’m playing games in my head. I’m praying for people I care about in my heart. I’m lost in a barefoot way of being, living and loving. I love myself. I love the people I’m with. I feel connected to my body and the earth. I am connected to the universe and in tune with my creator.
When I return to the house, I am not the same person. I am a free and present me. I’m no longer stuck under the weight of other people’s choices. I’m no longer a prisoner of my own head. I AM.
Some people think running--especially long distances--is insane. I think the opposite. Being still and sedentary is insane. When I tell people that running is a spiritual practice for me, this is what I mean. What was closed is opened, what was tight becomes loose. My personal liberation is bound up in my ambulation. And so I run.