Bipedal epiphany

I’ll often say or write things like “I mainly run for my mental health” or “I’ll think about everything and nothing when I’m running.”

I do run for my mental health. It’s my “me” time. I don’t think I can quantify the mental health benefits other than I haven’t killed anyone or myself (not that I’ve been to that point), I’m generally happy, and I can take life’s lumps.

I’ve decided that the whole “I think about everything and nothing” is a misnomer. Maybe even a bit of lie that I’ve been telling myself and others to convince us all that I’ll enter some kind of flow state of meditative introspection where I deeply ponder and find solutions to all of my problems and experience the ascension that comes from learning my singular purpose.

However, in coming to this conclusion, I realized that I do, in fact, think about everything and nothing, and experience that ascension. I’ve thought about that misnomer and how, more often than not, I’m thinking more about the “nothing.” Not once have I come back from a run and have had life all figured out. Running hasn’t directly taught or inspired me to be “successful,” or a better husband, father, friend, or human. I can’t remember a time while out on a run that I solved a specific problem, be it with a relationship or something at work. Sometimes I’ll set out on a run with a very specific problem in mind, with the hope and thought that the solution will come to me after I get some oxygen and a jolt of endorphins sent to my brain. If I’m being honest, it just doesn’t happen.

What running teaches me is to survive. To live in the moment. Right now. Every foot strike. Ten feet ahead. One minute ahead. One mile ahead. Three hours ahead. 20 miles ahead, and everything in between, in fleeting but extremely conscious and aware moments. What I’ve realized is that I do enter into a flow state. But I’m not focused on or solving family or financial or social or work problems. I’m focused on right here, right now. Every stride could be met with a misstep.

I thought about going on and on and writing about using all five senses. About how I’ll often hear rustling in the woods if I’m out on the trails, and I experience a heightened sense of awareness because that noise could be a rattlesnake, or a mentally unstable homeless person strung out on meth who’s wielding a machete, or how it’s usually just a squirrel.

I guess my whole point is that I do think about everything and nothing. Everything is right now, in this very moment. And it has nothing to do what happened a mile back or five ahead. Running imitates life.

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