Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Map Edge

It’s Tuesday Fit-Day.  An occasional  meditation on physical and mental fitness goals, successes and failures. 

Yesterday I went for a morning run.   It was unseasonably sunny and warm.  It was a little windy. 
And by a little windy I mean I was almost lifted off my feet at one point, ran in place at numerous points, and had a mouthful of sand grit on my return.  Apparently a hurricane was heading for Ireland, and I decided it would be a good time to go for a run along the River Thames.  I think my self-imposed news ban might be getting a bit dangerous.
I imposed the ban a few month ago when I found that I got too worked up over stupid politicians and transport strikes.  It served me well over the weekend when the news was inundated with 9 Sept. ‘memories.’  I remember every time I watch a Friends or Sex and the City repeat.  I remember the terror, the disbelief, the sorrow at seeing the names of co-workers I left the week before on ever-growing lists.  I remember.  I don’t need a reminder.  Time stands still on 9 Sept. for me.  I don’t flip the calendar.  In our house we go directly from 10 Sept to 12 Sept.  On the morning of 11 Sept I got up early to watch the Eagles take on Ireland in the Rugby.  I missed the National Anthem.  Which turned out to be a good thing, because when Pete asked if I caught it, I started tearing up. 
Living in London with the love of my life is a dream come true.  But when Autumn starts to roll in I get a bit homesick for the MidWest.  Hearing the National Anthem on 9 Sept. may have driven me over the edge.    

But that isn’t what I wanted to write about today.  I wanted to write about running and direction. 
About half-way through my run yesterday I began thinking about pushing forward.  I admit this was at a point when my head was tucked to my chest and eyes squeezed shut as the wind kicked up a swirl of sand from the river banks.  Lately I have had to admit that I enjoy running, at least when it is a nice day.  Running in the sleet storm a few weeks back sucked hard core!!  I won’t be running a marathon anytime soon.  I have no desire to run a marathon.  No, I like running because it gives me time out and is a bit of a zen practice for me.  At numerous points in the run I realize that my mind and body are operating independently.  This is not the same as me approaching my body as a separate entity but about it giving in to a rhythm and my mind being free to wander.  My legs keep pumping and carrying me forward, navigating the rises and falls and bumps with minimal direction. 
A lot of the wandering has to do with being amazed that I am even running.  But that quickly turns to marvelling at the path my life is taking.  It wasn’t very long ago that I was mourning the direction I was heading.  It was heading away from a lot of external expectations that I had come to think of as my own and I was feeling lost.  I see now that it was heading in the ‘right’ direction, I just wasn’t looking at the map properly.  My life kept pumping, pushing where it knew I should go while my head tried to scream that it was missing the exit. 

Maps are very powerful things.  They come in a variety of forms and I love all of them.  When I used to teach, I introduced maps to my students with a simple exercise. 
Draw a map of the campus.     
When they compared maps, they were amazed that everyone’s map was completely different.  Commuters centred their map on parking lots, resident students on their dorm.  Some buildings were missed out entirely and North was rarely at the ‘top.’  It is my favourite lesson.  Right up there with the orange peel globe.
Yesterday on my run I realized that I have been working off someone else’s map.  Many features are similar to mine, but key buildings and paths were left off.  I think I am back on track now. 
Or maybe I’m at the edge of the map.  That hazy bit where the lines and features turn into a blur and unknown.  Into the seemingly impossible or unimaginable.
‘Here there be monsters. 

I like it here.  I am an explorer after all.  The edge of the map is exactly where I am supposed to be. 

Enough with the cartography metaphors.  Here are some views from my running route.

'New Road Layout Ahead'

Holding back the floods

Crepuscular Rays

Yacht Club and Found Art

* all photos taken with iPhone on an evening walk.  I don't run and shoot.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful clouds and puzzling detritus are key elements of a good run.