I think I watched her run for years. It was not the sort of get away to which people become accustomed. She is someone that pushes life at a rapid rate. She is a person who believes this in a most ardent manner, that we need be strong, always. This persona attracted me to her when we were young adults.
So one day after years of imagining I asked if I might go for a run. She graciously invited me into her world for an exploration of who we might be at this stage of our lives. I felt like I was always trying to catch up, but happily so, I wouldn’t choose it any other way.
When I first began the run I tried to look composed and be as natural in form as she. She was so ahead of the game, I felt honored that she would even give me the time of day. She taught me quite a lot in those early weeks of our run. How to dress, how to live my life in a manner that looked and appeared put together, a reality I had let go of decades earlier. I grew to rely upon her judgment every step of the way. I trusted her skills.
In a short time we were stride for stride covering a lot of ground and our pace quickened with every step. I remember several occasions catching each other’s eyes with a little shock of our speed, realizing gradually we might trip if we didn’t stay focused upon the terrain ahead. As life would have it there are always trails and paths of uneven grade and mastering these levels is part of the beauty of challenging nature’s course together.
We discovered a new balance in our lives that seemed invigorating and we remarked at how wonderful this run had become supporting one another throughout each new journey ahead. We moved so fast though that one day rather than one another’s eyes we looked too closely into the sun, and our vision blinded, steps became unsure. We began to analyze the other side of our run, where in the beginning we loved to expound upon the balance, leaving confusion and insecurity behind. Naturally as life would have it, we became self-aware of recognizing adversity in the knees, the joints and muscles that need tendering in any enduring challenge. The body, can be consumed in a good run, but the mind might handle only so much.
I remember the time I sort of stutter stepped and glanced my hand upon her shoulder for balance, throwing off her cadence and my own. She regained her rhythm and I now fell behind a bit, but she stayed close allowing me to find again my composure. My energy gave her a smile and we immediately thought about the idiosyncratic nature of life and how sudden movement even on a forest path might give our bodies pause, a desire to catch up. I often wonder if I had noticed with more clarity early on what remains vivid in my mind today. I didn’t have to be stride for stride. I could have eased back providing her some space on the road to carry on her will. Such understanding might have kept us both running toward a beautiful horizon that lay ahead.
I stumbled again. This time I reached out with both hands landing on her shoulders hoping to maintain my stride, but letting my foot step upon hers and in a sudden tangle our bodies intertwined, we tumbled upon the soft mossy terrain of a country path. We rolled apart and looked for one another’s eyes, and now too much fear had enveloped us both and we glanced askance of one another trying to figure out how to start again. We decided to wait until the next day.
Increasingly, as we tried to continue our runs, the equilibrium began to slowly break apart, and my reliance upon her grew more and more, and I could see her body language wanting to create separation allowing her the freedom to run again. I was slowing her down, and instead of seeing that, I could feel my own strength overcompensate and with each stride I would suffocate her own motion, until one afternoon exasperated she stopped and turned and looked my way. Her eyes told me she couldn’t run with me anymore, the serenity was being shattered by my own insecurities. I had forgotten long ago the beauty of a run on a gorgeous summer evening and instead began to focus upon the grace of her own understanding. Little did I know then, that now when I find myself sprinting down a pathway, she is nowhere to be found because I forced her to carve out a new trail.
I’ve been running now for some time on my own, and though the balance is there the equilibrium will always lack the beauty of sharing a stretch of nature with the one we love. Instead we try to move forward and find a reasonable gait allows us to keep the run despite constant reminders of once sharing the trail, the path together.
Perhaps serendipity does exist in the miles ahead, yet one thing is for sure – we can’t force ourselves into another’s space. We will trip and feel the perils of a missed opportunity.
© Thom Amundsen 8/2021