Monday, May 16, 2016

A year of running

I've been writing this post, or at least sections of it, little by little, in my head during my runs for the past month or so. Somehow it just didn’t get to birth on my computer sooner. Now, climbing through 10 000 feet just after taking off from Rooikop airport en route to Johannesburg, Dubai and finally China, I hope to finally start penning this down. Maybe by the end of my journey there will be a proper piece to publish.

A little over a year ago our family packed up and moved inland from the Namibian coast. It was quite a radical step, in so many ways. We didn’t just relocate, we upped and left behind a certain type of life style, our so-called comfort zone, which just didn’t offer the comforts that it should have any longer. Or perhaps it never did so to start with. We purposefully started downsizing, down-scaling, letting go, re-purposing, throwing out, saying NO to what we didn't need or didn't like, and started focusing on the things that matters most. Now, looking back upon a year that has passed, I realise that we probably are still very much in the beginning of the process, perhaps still only scratching the surface, of defining WHAT exactly it is that is important, those things that we ultimately yearn more of. But you have to start somewhere, and we did.

Like with any change, especially the big changes and those really worth it, there are easy parts and hard parts. And sometimes the hard parts last a really, really long time. And you start questioning yourself and your choices, your motivations and your reasons. And then you realise that you will have to adapt to your new surroundings. Which is something that may have never occurred to you before, because it is much easier to plan and calculate how you will change your circumstances... but one never can quite imagine how your circumstances will change you, and exactly how resistant to change you may end up being. Or how vulnerable you may feel facing the results of your choices.

So I ran.

My good friend posted on Facebook the other day: ‘Those who say you can’t run away from your problems have never tried running’. I smiled. How true! I found that running has been the answer when sometimes I couldn’t even properly define the question. This past year, I have done a lot of running. I ran to escape the very unattractive, cold, orange house we rented as we waited to start building our new dream home on the edge of a tiny town in rural Namibia. I ran in the beautiful arid shrublands of the pro-Namib Desert, on rocky tracks, hills and sandy dry riverbeds. I ran for the love of being outdoors during hours undisturbed by other people. I ran to train for my first marathon in the Swiss Alps. I ran to escape the loneliness of my husband travelling extensively for work. I ran to think. To dream. I ran to BE and to rekindle ME and what I love and live for. I ran to regroup and plan. I ran away from the frustration of realising that our dream home was not to be build any time soon or perhaps during this century. The disappointment. Another few months stuck in the orange house.

I ran.

I started running further and longer. I ran alone. I regretted not running more with my friends and like-minded companions when I had the chance. I regretted not making more effort to spend time with those who feed my mind and spirit. Slowly but surely, during times of utter isolation and reflection, life started to become simpler, the things that matter clearer.

I ran until heart and mind became quieter.

We slowed down. There is only so much escaping the stillness and quietness, before it starts to possess you and become you. I started reaching out more, identifying and cherishing bonds and exchanges with kindred spirits, gently rejecting those that were less wholesome.

I walked too. A lot.

Sometimes when I run with a heavy heart my mind has the tendency to wander off and pretty soon I’m reduced to a walk. Not a power walk. A mere stroll. Sometimes a heavyhearted, heads-down, shoulder sagging plod. And during the worst times I even sat down. I stopped my Garmin and I sat on the ground under the nearerst Acacia or whichever tree would have me. Thank God for music. During this year I discovered the magic (and perils) of running with music, most appreciated during times when I needed the kilometres on my legs and really just couldn’t afford to lose focus. I ran my first ultra marathon this year, and as I type this I am on my way to China to run the Great Wall marathon, a trip that was gifted to me by my extremely generous husband and beautiful boys.

I ran a lot this year. I run because I love how running makes me feel, during and after the run. My running time is my quiet time during which I think and reflect. I now start my runs from the most beautiful little castle in Damaraland. A home we found after our initial plans didn’t work out. One where we can share and nourish our love of nature with our young boys and where we can play outside, free and unbridled for as long as we choose. A home where the stars seems so close at night that you sometimes are startled when you look up (stars that startle... ) 

And no matter how far or long I run, how fast or slow, whether I reached my goal or missed it by eons, I always return home to the people that miss me every time I step out the door. The people that encourages me, loves me and supports me, the people who would much rather have me spend time with them than sweating it out on the road but nevertheless selflessly nudges (sometimes force) me out the door to go do what I love. I know I am loved, as I know that I am much easier to love when I run.

So I run on.

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