I am a fearful runner. By this I mean, I do not like to explore very much when I go out running my five or seven or ten miles. I find a route that keeps to quiet territory (no intersections please; no waiting for lights) and I keep to it, quietly, though I like to imagine that my routine appearance makes me familiar to the houses I pass, the excitable dogs left home for the day and the flocks of geese who know their place as surely as I know mine.
These days, my route takes me past mountains that surprise me, they are that big and that incredibly close. I came to this new place on a long-forged whim. A whim that had been gestating for years, when I really get to thinking about it. (Once I sat in a booth at a coffee shop, across from me was a handsome boy, and I talked about my weekly commutes to the mountain town. It takes me up in its palm, I said. I was really talking about rescue; I needing a palm to scoop me up then.) Now, I am here, in the palm of the place, and I go out running below mountains blue and white and startlingly close. Even though I've arrived at this expected place, I am still fearful. There is no pretty way to talk about fear; it just sits inside of you, waiting to be waited upon.
To be certain, there are a great many things to fear in this life. You don't need me to list them all here; you've racked them up yourself in your midnight hours and grey morning lights. They have a lot to do with loss, I am sure. Of belonging, of credibility, of security. Of love.
I am afraid my knee will give out and I'll have to give up running.
I am afraid I will always be bored.
I am afraid I will always stay small.
I am afraid that the past will always tug at me, greedy child.
I am afraid that I have hurt people.
I am afraid that I won't be enough for him.
That was my list this morning. This morning I ran over wet roads, my knee only going weak once, as I leaped into the grass in the ditch to move out of a truck's path. But I climbed out of the ditch; I kept running. And, as is usually the way, I found a bit of clarity while I was out in the world. I was reminded of a trick my mother taught me, when the fear gets ahold of you:
Give it all up. To God. To the Universe. To the thing that is here with us that is bigger than us. Truly. Just do it. You can even look up when you do it. Or down at the earth beneath your feet, if that's where you find the big thing. Send it out of you. There is something that wants to take the fear from you. Because it's pointless. It gets us nowhere, friend.
My knees will continue to grow weak, but I know myself; I'll keep on running as long as they allow.
The boredom, the smallness, the past--they're mine to own; mine to turn away from, too.
I have hurt people. I am sorry.
I am not a savior; only a woman. His. That's enough.
Keep to your territory, quietly, if that's what you need now. Let your legs carry you there. Do not be afraid.
Thanks for reading.