Monday, April 21, 2008


I woke up this morning with an overwhelming urge to run. Instead of going running, I spent an hour thinking about why I wanted to run. 

As I write this, I laugh at the strangeness of my tendency to write about doing things instead of actually doing them. A few years ago, struck with the running urge in the middle of the night, I sat in bed and wrote a two page description of running through my neighborhood during an approaching storm. The description morphed into a poem a year later for my first creative writing class and made an appearance in every creative writing class I have taken since then. An early version is even in this blog. I do not have the later versions of it because I lost all my creative writing from the past two years when I dropped my computer in November. Those edits are no loss though because they weren't genuine.

Over the first two years that this piece existed in prose and poetry, I fell in love with it and worked on it with myself as the only intended audience. Then one of my professors finally asked me, "What is this about?" I was not entirely sure. I knew it meant something to me, but I did not know what, and I had assumed that it would satisfy my writing teachers merely as an exercise in concrete description. I shrugged. "What are you running from?" Nothing, I don't think. And then I began to doubt because I was in therapy at that point and was pretty sure I was subconsciously running from a lot of things. But I couldn't figure out what I was running from in this poem. During that semester, the poem became the story of a girl with an eating disorder. It didn't feel like my poem anymore, but now it was about something and satisfied my professors.

What is this poem about and why do I wake up with a need to run so strong that I would go barefoot and bra-less, still in my pajamas? Better that I write about my feelings until I calm down a little. I don't think I am running away from anything in the poem or in life. I do my running away psychologically and not physically. As I recall, I wrote the original running story during the best summer of my life and I feel pretty good about my life now, so what would I be running from? Maybe I am so used to being miserable that I run away from happiness? I really don't think that's my problem. I think my problem is that I am stuck in the cliche metaphor. Why do writers always use running to mean escape? I am sure the postmodernists have already asked these questions and long ago figured out what I am now discovering. What if I am running towards something? That makes much more sense to me. Life is good, but it is not yet complete. There is something out there, something that feels close. I'm not sure what it is or where it is exactly, but maybe if I run around the neighborhood, I will find it before it has a chance to get away.

On that note, I am going to go running now. 


The Dancing Newt said...

Running can be a journey. Running can be about pushing forward. It can be about loving the way your body moves. Meditation. A release of energy.

And sometimes things just ARE.

Thirdmango said...

"wrote a two page description of running through my neighborhood during an approaching storm."

The way you describe it here does feel like you are running towards something and not away from anything, especially that you'd be running into an approaching storm. Perhaps being someone in whom is faced with adversity instead of cowering from it, you run into it, knowing you can push through it.