The Impressions

Sometimes it's really hard to put more than two words together and come up with something meaningful. The self-imposed pressure to do something that matters takes a deadly toll on already feeble inspiration, and it's gloomy and raining outside and I don't want to walk home to lunch. This morning I ran to then on a track. As soon as I got there, I saw the old man running back and forth, about a half length of one of the long sides of the track. I would round the last curve of the track, and he would be running towards me full speed (for him, at least), teetering on his old legs, swaying back and forth at a mesmerizing (and concerning) pitch. As I got closer I started to move over on the track so we wouldn't collide, but right before I reached him he abruptly turned around and ran the other way. I passed him and kept going, and the scenario repeated itself as many times as I circled the track.

I spent my run thankful that my knees didn't hurt, and thinking about why that man, who had the whole track to run around, was using only a tiny section. I saw the bicycle on my first lap around, but didn't put it together until the third or fourth lap. He was running that short piece of track to babysit his bike, which was standing tall and proud on a kickstand next to the fence. And he had a bike lock on his bike, unused, and a coat draped over it, like the covering of a proud and chilly racehorse.

He was running his short laps to watch his bike, and although I tend to shy away from philosophics (which is not a real word), I wondered why he wasn't using the lock, instead running 30 yards back and forth to watch it. Maybe the dark had something to do with it, maybe it was an expensive bike (I didn't stop to look at it, after all, he was right there), maybe it was actually a trap and he wasn't as feeble as he appeared to be, maybe it wasn't his bike at all and he just really likes running 40 paces back and forth. And back and forth. And back and forth. And back and... You get it.

It really doesn't matter very much, but it made an impression on me, and hours later, I'm sitting at my desk, glad that the rain didn't ruin my shoes on my walk home for lunch, and thinking about that guy who just kept running back and forth.

Write about what makes an impression on you. Maybe someday you'll realize it mattered more than you thought.

Why Running (Writing) is so Good

There are three kinds of runners:

  • I've-got-to-get-away runners. They take massive strides, covering ground like a charging rhino; running like they're a) going somewhere, b) getting away from something,  or c) trying to forget life. Their lungs might explode mid-run, but they won't notice.
  • I'm-doing-this-for-the-cardio runners. This seems to be the largest group, not in it for the adrenaline or the high; it's for the exercise. The woman and her look of misery, the heavyset man on a slow jog with sparkling clean running shoes that look like they've never been worn.
  • I-love-this runners. A conundrum to the rest of us. They run for the sheer pleasure; not because they need the exercise, not because they need the freedom. They enjoy it.

Every runner fits somehow into one (or maybe all three) of these groups. However, after years and years of running, usually the members of the first and second group become members of the third. Many people who start running because they must keep running because they want.

The same could be said about writing. Some write with fervor and passion, pounding it out to cope. Others write because they have to, because it's an assignment or a deadline or a letter to Great Aunt Mabel. But a few write for the love of writing. They write because they know the feeling of having written; the euphoria of seeing their words on a page, and knowing them to be not only okay—but good.

Even if running (writing) is mere drudgery, keep at it. It's healthy, good for your body (brain), and keeps you flexible. And, after all, there's a slight chance that before forever happens, you'll enjoy it.