Five bonus points if you can name that poet.
It is indeed foggy this morning here on the Pilgrimage, and I’m talking serious, can’t-see-two-cars-ahead-of-you fog (although it’s burning off by now). I like fog—I like most inclement weather, really, but I like fog. There’s something forgiving about it, something accepting about it, something that allows you to be whoever and whatever you are in that moment because you can’t see the next and no one else can really see you. I like that fog inhabits all spaces, capping the world in damp velvet and pooling in valleys as a bowl of roiling mist wrapping lovingly chill fingers around the sentinel trees.
The obvious connection for a blog like this and a fog like that is the limitation of it, the acceptance of not being able to see ahead of you but trusting enough to walk forward, anyway. If you haven’t realized by now, Reader, I’m not always a fan of the obvious. Go deeper.
I went running this morning–I try to run once or twice a week, which counts as my recognition of the inevitable age of my body. I rarely run with an iPod, partially because mine gave up the chip and went to the great Apple Store in the Sky a few weeks ago, but also because running is really the only time for me to just let my brain go. I’m a very analytical person, usually, so having an hour block of time when I can’t do much besides think allows me to wear my own head out, in a way. When I run, I can compose this blog, or plan out tomorrow, or review the whole of yesterday; I can pray (sometimes also known as ranting), I can try to remember my seventh grade teachers, I can wonder what I’m going to do for my final paper, whatever. It’s mine to think, and then it’s mine to stop thinking. By the end of mile two, the world I live in becomes much less pressing compared to the world of the crunch-crunch-crunch of my sneakers on gravel, the pulse of my heart against the trill song of the robin laughing at the joy of a shining sun, the feel of the rise and fall of the trail as I lean on the hills, using the land to help me run. I like running because eventually it becomes about the running, becomes about the breathing, the left-right-left-right rhythm that has nothing to do with Life Decisions, Scheduling, Expectations, or Possible Mistakes and everything to do with feeling the hip that strains at mile one and a half, the ankle for which I finally stopped wearing a brace last year, the blood that thumps through my body to let me know I’m not dead yet.
The fog helps this, which is part of why I like it. It forces me to forget everything else while I see only going forward, dimly hearing the roars of the highway that ghost through my route on their rumbling way to bigger cities, other lives. Running this morning was a focusing, a grounding, a reminder that being right here right now is important, too. This week has been about looking forward: counting classes until the end of the term, planning out when I teach, beginning to make decisions about what I’ll take in the fall—being reminded, always, that I am creating a forked path, pushing myself to choose one of two lives. Running in the fog gives me the space to live the life I have, with all of the prematurely aging joints and the lungs that say this is too much, we should have stopped a mile ago.
This is not to say that I use running to run away from my life—I have done that, in various ways, and it never works out for me. But it is to say that sometimes, whether the week has been great or crap or absolutely level, I need to stop living in the future. I’m not a fan of where I am, in some ways, in my life, and this creates a way for me to keep looking forward, to seek always tomorrow and tomorrow’s day after. I feel as though I’m living a life that won’t happen for some years because I don’t know what to do with the life that I actually have, and that’s not only cheating any Plan there might be, it’s cheating myself. Yes, I’m relatively young, but do I really want to get to the “golden” years and realize I never lived through brass, bronze, or silver? I don’t believe in reincarnation, so I have this one life to live—why would I want to skip any part of it, no matter how unpleasant? Why would I want to shorten it, twist it, ignore it, manipulate it as if things will be some nebulous sort of “better” down the line? In this week there have been disappointments, there have been frustrations, there have been moments of anger and fear. But there has also been running in the fog; is that not worth noticing?
For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known. (1 Cor. 13:12, TMB)