February 19, 2014 by scratchtype1
I reach a stretch of uphill road and it’s going nearly at the sun which will be dropping below that horizon in another 20 minutes or so. The fields to both sides of me are buried with a thick snow and it looks blue in the corners of my eyes or when I turn my head to scan around. Just an easy run, don’t want anything hard or stressful, only a run to run and to celebrate the good fortune of weather and circumstance that’s allowing me for the first time since early December, to run both Monday and Tuesday in the same week, and to run a bit lighter — only shorts, only 2 shirts, a hat and thin gloves, and Xeros. The last few weeks especially have been constant repetition of when running to be dressed in extra layers and toe socks.
I turn back to head, more or less, homewards. Now I see my shadow stretch out before me and I can see it becoming the runner I might wish I could be, impossibly lean and impossibly long stride that still falls under my center. The shadow looks fast and I chase it, but with patience. No need to go fast for my real body and real self. But the dream can dance along before me and I can chase it some, enjoy these few minutes of easy downhill running and the brief moments where words disappear from the thoughts and I become something purer, a runner of instinct, a runner of the shadows, a runner after prey, a runner to home.
A couple of cars pass by and I can see the eyes of the drivers who have to squint and struggle to see. I watch their cars closely, to make sure they see me and that they only run over my shadow which stretches into the middle of the road.
Bernd Heinrich likes to chase antelopes. I realize that I like to chase my own shadow. Perhaps that’s too isolationist, perhaps I should have some other totem to chase and maybe I’ll figure it out or see it someday on some future run. But while we can very often dream forward while we run, a good run, it seems to me always demands a bit of immediate presence and present. So today I chase that thin shadow.
Obviously shadows don’t always go before us. Often they are behind us. And many times inside us. Perhaps what’s inside of us is always a shadow, unless our ribs were to be ripped open and then light reaches inside there. That happens only with trauma, only then does the inner shadow disappear and sometimes it means we might die, or that we’re undergoing surgery to keep us from dying. So be careful about exposing shadows to light, they’re funny and strange things, with rules of light and obstruction. Be careful when you chase your inner shadows.
And be grateful when you can run after a shadow of chance good weather and sunset.
Later I go to bed early and wake from a dream, a dream where the doctor tells me I have an extra rib which needs surgery to be removed. He has me chase after him to take me to a surgeon. The surgeon babbles something about mismatched ribs and evolutionary strange brews and how he can fix it, but it’s going to hurt and I might die. I wake up and it’s deep in the shadows of the night. I breathe uneasily and then take a while to drift back to the few hours of sleep left to me.