Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Writing on the run or, the other side of pretty

I'm such a creature of habit it's embarassing. I follow the same little .6 mile loop over and over around the house every time I run, and never change my direction. It works, I like my loop and I don't have to think to run, I just point myself in the right direction and my feet do the rest. But when I was trying to figure out the cause of my achy ankle I realized I made a whole lot of right hand turns putting strain on one side. So yesterday I decided to reverse my direction. Simple it would seem, but not necessarily for a girl so deeply entrenched in a routine and a little obsessive to boot.

I gave myself a pep talk and started making mental notes, that I would have to pay attention this time so as to not get off track. I picked a song (I always play a song in my head on continuous repeat), this time it was "Mothers of the Disappeared" by U2, we had just watched "Rattle and Hum" the night before. I love U2. In the other available space in my brain I have a conversation going with myself. The words often end up being something I would write if I had a pen in my hand, but instead I just play them over and over, refining and editing as I go. I like how God planned it, that music is a separate part of the brain so I can entertain myself and have a mental conversation simultaneously. By now you're thinking I'm crazy, but to that I just say I'm exercising both sides of my brain, preventing dementia thank you very much.

I was running along thinking about the metaphor in looking at the same path from a completely opposite view. Simple, trite even, but worth pondering nonetheless. What happens when we go against the routine and look at things from a different direction, a new perspective? A novelty for the obsessive-compulsive folks in the room and even a little scary. The section of run on the gravel drive to the road and the barn wasn't much different. But for the route through the field and the woods behind the house it was another story. This is my favorite section of run anyway, the trees are beautiful even bare as they are right now and the way the sun hits the tops of the branches takes my breath away.

I felt like I was on a completely different piece of property and even tried to make a few wrong turns at first. I was congratulating myself on being able to break routine. Look how much healthier I am! I thought. It's the same reaction I have when I look around at my messy house. I'm able to tolerate chaos without thinking I have to control it all. But a little sadness creeps in, I know I have so far to go. And although I don't think this new route ended up being any better for my ankle, it sure was worth it if only so I could let go of a little more, and see the other side of pretty.

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