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Location: Midwest, United States

Friday, August 11, 2006

State of Disrepair (Part 1)

I’d previously written about living in ruins. It is neither a good nor even an acceptable way to live, but…with a little bit of sweat, a few weeks’ time, several competent contractors, and a wallet stuffed with can readily move into a comfortable house (and with a big dollop of love...a home).

Unfortunately, my house is not the only ruin I inhabit. There is also this body of mine to consider.

They say the body is the temple of the soul. Temple seems like such an absurdly inappropriate term in my case. My body was never that. At best, I imagine an old village church, much like the churches I visited in the backwater villages in the Bordeaux region of France. These churches are worn and haggard. They were modest, somewhat deficient structures to begin with, but a few centuries later they seem to veritably list from exhaustion, their stones cracked and eroded, their interiors blackened with smoke and stained from human use. Still, they house the spirit…one can feel its presence. These derelict churches demand a grudging respect. They may not be temples, but they are worth saving. They continue to serve their intended purpose.

I, myself, am growing old. This poor, rustic church of mine is looking mighty shabby. It wasn’t all that long ago when I had committed to sweeping renovations. At age 50, I was a total ruin. The next logical step was complete demolition. Rather than give in to that impulse, I vowed to restore myself as best I could. Thereon, I sweated and groaned in the gym, attended aerobics classes faithfully, practiced yoga daily, stopped smoking and drinking, started cycling (eventually becoming a Spinning Instructor) and…best of all…I started running. Oh, did I run! I ran almost daily - a few miles at first, then ever longer distances until I could complete a 26.2-mile marathon. It felt good to be alive. It felt good to be an animal once more. But it was more than simply becoming fit again. No, it was much, much more than that. My wooded trails became my sanctuary, my runs enlightened me, kept depression at bay, helped me to cope with my disintegrating marriage…

I ran to revel in the beauty all around me, and I ran to escape the world. I ran to feel the earth beneath my feet, the wind in my hair, the rain on my face, and the sun on my back. I ran to feel the sweat in my eyes, to feel my heart sing and my blood pulse. I ran to remember and I ran to forget. I ran to heal despite the pain in my legs. I ran from my demons and I ran towards salvation…

I imagined I would run and run and run for the rest of my life.

I was wrong.

* * *

(to be continued)


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