Thursday, July 22, 2010
I think, as adults, we tend to forget the joy we experienced as children. One of the simplest of childhood joys was the movement of our bodies. If you have ever seen an infant kicking its legs and waving its arms, you have seen the joy of movement. If you have watched a small child spin around with arms flying, trying to lift straight up off the ground, you have seen the joy of movement. Children instinctively know they want to move. As we age, our responsibilities begin to tether us to earth, holding us back and keeping us from moving as freely and joyfully as we did as children. Some people manage to hold onto their passion for movement and remain athletes throughout life. Others succumb to the pressures of life and become sedentary and still.
I have always wanted to run. As a small child, I never walked. I ran from place to place, from one adventure to another. When I grew older, I tried to keep running, but pain in my knees kept me from flying along. As I grew older still, I found myself slowing down to the point of trudging along through life. Sooner than I had anticipated, I knew I was only a few years away from developing a discouraged, shuffling gait. My body plodded along, but in my heart I still wanted to run.
I have always been able to run in my dreams. In that ethereal world of possibilities, I can run like the wind. On rare occasions I do fly in my dreams, but I am much more likely to find myself pounding along a wooded trail, my feet kicking up leaves and dodging loose stones. At a bend in the trail, I might swing around a small tree and then power up and over a mountain ridge. All too soon, as if I am not allowed to linger too long in that world of freedom, I also wake up. I wake up grounded, saddened by my loss of speed and exhilaration.
I have found a way to run during my waking hours. In the shallow end of the pool, buoyed by water, I am able to run until my legs are weak and my soul is clean. Fortunately for my still-way-too-large behind, I am also able to run off a great number of calories. In the water, as in my dreams, I am moving, sometimes joyfully, sometimes grudgingly, but always moving. In those moments I am, once again, a child.