Thursday, May 3, 2012

Desire and Nature


   Just got back from a really nice run. Last year at this time I would have called it a short run, because I was training for a long ass race I didn't end up running, but now this is just a run. I run about 2-4 miles when I run now, I do do it for just for the exercise and enjoyment. I REALLY enjoy it now.

So, I haven't written for a few days. A couple quick notes about that:

  1. I tried a couple times.
  2. Writing near TV is pretty much not writing, for me.
  3. I'm not going to write every day.
  4. Sometimes, when I write it will be gibberish. Pure nonsense.
  5. I just needed a 5 to round out the list. Like how you never have an even number of flowers in a bouquet.
Some days are busy, others are full. Not many of mine are neither. Today was full!  Worked a full day, came home and mowed the lawn, ate dinner while working from home some more and playing with Zen, took the little Fyahball for an evening walk over the bridge to see the lake, read him a couple stories and put him to bed, rocking and singing.  Then I went for a run. Here's that story...

"Are you going to go all frolicky style?" says her Wifeness.
"We'll see how I feel." says I.

Sometimes, since abandoning regimented training, while running around (going to 'run around' always sounds more fun than going 'for a run', and I like stuff to be more fun, so I say it in a more fun way) I will jump on stuff, and balance on things, and stop and gawk and just generally gallivant about the place. (See doesn't that sound fun?!) I don't always, but sometimes I do. Sometimes I just run around.  I never really know. I also am not too sure how far or exactly where any more. I have a general idea when I set out but, I will let shiny things draw my eye. Like different paths, or water, or trees, or critters, or just a gut feeling.

I ran a familiar route tonight. Felt good right away. It was so so nice out! I love not living in Uptown on days like this. The lakes are ridiculously crowded. There's something to be said for that too but, it doesn't jibe with a relaxing run, for me. I left home and ran around a small pond, where there must have been thousands of crickets and who knows how many frogs chirping away. It was getting to be dusk, so they were really going!  I skirted the trail and ran over to a little nature center nearby. I ended up taking the short trail around the grounds. The short trail's less than a mile and has a floating bridge across the lake there.  I did do a little hopping and balancing but, that wasn't the inspiring part.

Whenever I cross the floating bridge, on a run, I do a little Tai Chi walking. See, the floating bridge is hard to run on. You might think it would be nice and soft but, it's not soft like a padded mat. It just keeps giving, then returns in a whole different rhythm than I generally run. So, the first time, I went and tried to run across, it was like running on Jello. It really didn't work. So I started the walking. I am a very novice Tai Chi student so, I can use all the practice I can get. Plus, in addition to being meditative, and a nice break from the cardio, I discovered another benefit: enhanced balance! While the trails were icy this Spring, I went for a run over there, and sort of slipped and slid my way to the bridge. After Tai Chi walking for the last couple of panels of bridge, I ran much more steadily, the rest of the lap.

Today, as I approached the bridge, I was taking in the surroundings. Tall reeds. Calm water. More chirping bugs and frogs. A beaver streaming by. The wild life there is not completely wild but, not completely trusting, like city park critters, either. So, they disperse when I come running up the path. A story came to mind of a man (I want to say a monk but, I don't remember the origin of the story) who was so at peace with his own nature, and the the whole of nature, that truly wild animals would note flee when he was near (deer is what came to mind from the story; now that I'm typing this it might actually have been Buddha. LOL.) I wanted to be that at peace with the beaver that just swam by, and the ducks that were hustling off in the brush. But, I realized too that that desire, to be at peace was by it's very name (desire) a barrier to that type of experience. I laughed at that to, and just went back to enjoying the place, as I approached the bridge and slowed to a walk.

I stepped from land onto the first section of bridge, slanting down to the second (and first floating) section. Just over the joint between the 2 pieces, I stood and bowed, as we customarily do to open a Tai Chi form. As I came up from a deep bow, the critters seemed to crescendo and chirped in different way and at a different pitch for just a moment.  I couldn't help but laugh again. I began to slowly walk. Usually I just do legs. Just Tai Chi walk, paying close attention to where my weight is, how my feet and body are aligned, and where my energy is. But, tonight I did arms too. At first, I couldn't really keep them straight and did a combination of 2 different moves (Parting Wild Horse's Mane and Brush Knee). After 4 or 5 steps, I settled into the Horse's Mane, and did that for a few more panels of bridge. This is a long bridge (maybe even longer than this blog post) so, I usually do a little walking at the beginning and a little walking at the end.

This was when it got really fun. Based on my previous grounding, and balance enhancing experience with this bridge walking practice, I thought I would try to jog part of it tonight. Here, something else came to mind, which is maybe too much of a tangent to go to much into but, hey that's kind of how I do....OK, briefly: I have been reading about photography as a contemplative practice, and the notion of receiving photos rather than taking them, resonates deeply with me. I thought of that in conjunction with my decision to jog. I thought, I would pay attention to the bridge, and the way it was behaving under my feet. Rather than running, the way I do on land, and dismissing the bridge as problematic, I would just run and pay attention to what the bridge was telling me. I would receive the bridge. At first I had a similar sensation as first attempt. Finding a rhythm wasn't as easy as just running at a steady pace. The bridge would dunk, under my footfalls, and not return in time for the next foot but, rather mid stride about 1 and a half steps later. Gradually, I began to wait for the bridges return, to put my foot down. At first it was a really awkward run , as I had started with a heavy foot and I had to wait at irregular intervals for the bridge's buoyancy to return it to level. But, as I got the hang of it, we did fall into rhythm. The bridge and I did. The water, and the bridge and I were all in step. It was such a cool sensation. I felt like I was running on the water! My gait was shorter and a little bouncier than usual, but, it was what was agreed upon. At each at each peak of the bridges bounce, the ball of my foot would strike and the bridge would go just slightly back down. It was like running across turtle shells in a cartoon! "So fucking cool!" I thought, as I stopped tip-toeing across the lake, in time to save myself a few panels to walk, before shore.

I looked back and saw the waves that the bridge, the water and I had created. Rows of them, they HAD to be...equidistant, radiating out from the bridge on both sides. Smiling like a goof now.  I turned, and stepped on a seam of a 2 bridge pieces, bowed, and began my slow, mindful walking. As I did, I noticed a (different?) beaver, swimming toward the end of the bridge where I was headed. I kept walking. I think I did 3 or 4 panels, which is probably 10-15 steps. I stopped just before the bridge-to-land gapper, and just as I was coming out of slow motion, the beaver, who had been just floating at the edge of the bridge, splashed and went under water. For a second there, I had forgotten the desir to be connected, and I was. The whole place popped to life even more vividly! So much sound. So many more creatures! There were frogs all along the path, on this side of the lake which, I had to watch for, and a turtle, and more birds, and the rise and fall of the frogs' and crickets' song. But, to tell the whole story, at this point, having come out of that place, I couldn't wait to write about it! I went back and forth the rest of the way home thinking about what I would type, and reminding myself to just run. I enjoyed that too. Inspiration is a great feeling. I was reminded of an aphorism on the way back, about not being any more excited at the last step of the journey than the first, and really tried to find that middle way. 

Practice is fun. Toady was full.

By the way, I didn't type anything I thought I might...ha.