I call it “active meditation.”
Running to induce pure thought that moves seamlessly with every step. It works better than sitting for me, and I get to go to places that nobody else goes in order to meditate.
I wrote this awhile back… after a mountain run that took me half the day. It took so long because I had things in my head that I needed to figure out. I think we all have these days—days that we need to just get out in order to get inside our own simple brains.
It’s about seeing, moving and being. Enjoy.
There was a specific day this weekend that everything made sense, and it was a fleeting moment of clarity that came and went by just a little too fast, like the moment when you see the sun glimmer off the wings of a hawk flying swiftly on the wind. You wish that memory would come back, but now it’s gone. These memories run away in the same manner that everything makes sense after you’ve finished the race, but you can’t remember a single moment from it except the start and finish lines.
That’s why we have memory.
I used to have these moments of clarity all the time—the kind of clarity that happens when you feel as if you could run fast for hours. Those moments stayed and they floated on the wind. Those hawks stayed on an eternal wall of wind right in front of my face. The only people there to tell me otherwise were the vortices of cheatgrass whispering in the breeze. The only thing that blinded my sight was dust and my own long, brown hair tangling and galloping away from my runaway caboose of a mind. No one—except another runner—understands how these hours on the trail pass. This is solitude, the opening to a sojourning prayer. Meditation.
Last Saturday, I ran nine miles up into the mountains on a dirt road and single track trail. I lost a bracelet of sentimental value on the way up. It was windy—cold enough to warrant a thermal layer, but hot enough to warrant a hand bottle. I reached the top of the ridge, tiptoeing on spines of rock and looking out over the town. Thinking of nothing. This space, close to heavens, barely grounded, is where I like to be. It is my citadel. These places are sacred. This is communion with whatever is holy. I run to places where no one has been likely to take the effort or the time to go. And when I get there, I laugh, cry, talk, or simply keep running.
But just briefly, and even in accidentally losing the attachment of the worldly (my bracelet) on the way up, I could talk to God (whoever it is). The only one who belongs up there is me and those hawks that inspire me. And I remember every word that my God—the God of running—said to me. I wrote them down and I’ve gone through them in my mind nonstop since I left.
There’s a rugged wind and heat that will rip you to shreds if you stay out long enough. I plan on being freckled and windburned forever. I am small and strong because I want to access the places that make me think…the places that give me the strength to stand up for myself. One of the only things I really believe myself to be good at in mind, body, and spirit is running up mountains for hours and letting the wind whip my face. I like it when the sun and sweat sting my skin. These journeys were meant to be taken alone. Sojourns.
From the top, I can see everything. Even you. When I’ve been in the town for a long time, it messes with my mind. Failing to experience movement in the mountains bleaches my soul and body like deer skulls in the desert sun. I am insular. I am strong. I am vulnerable. And it’s time to head for the ridges.
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Ed: Sara Crolick