Today I ran. This was not unusual in and of itself. I’ve run at least a mile every day since New Year’s Eve. That’s my goal for the year. It’s been 125 days since I haven’t run.
But today I ran and it was different than it’s been in a while. My feet found the same familiar rhythm, my breathing fell in line. But I felt lighter. Quieter. I let the gray of today surround me. I let the clouds press in, the pavement rise to meet me. I left my head. I let my body go. And I ran.
And footfall after footfall, I began to consider something.
I haven’t felt the desire to write in quite a while. Who am I to give you words on running? I certainly am no expert on the subject. Not an elite. Just a mere mortal runner – average at best. There are thousands of others out there writing about the same subjects. The same races. Their own takes. Their own knowledge. And perhaps their words are better than mine.
Why should you care? Who am I but a story?
But we’re all just stories in the end. One of my favorite lines ever. Something I grow to believe more and more the more I think about it. The more I ponder and contemplate. I spend a lot of time in my head. Thinking.
When I was younger, I used to make up stories. My brother and I would act out our own made up stories where we were cartoon characters, or Power Rangers, or dragons. In middle school, I used to write pages upon pages of story. While my peers would turn in one page, double spaced, written in as large of handwriting they could muster while staying in the lines – my pages were neatly written, double spaced, and numerous. My handwriting small and cramped, even then. In 6th grade, I once got teased for my titanic of a poem on the Titanic, which was about 7 stanzas long.
I’d write stories outside during lunch. Mostly silly little things – about boy bands being flattened like pancakes by Godzilla, or vampires, or knights. My notebooks were my world.
Fast forward to now, and I guess what I’m getting at is that I’ve always embraced the idea of story. Our lives are made up of them. We are the sum of our stories, our experiences. Something as simple as a footfall on the gray cement, a certain path, a breath, it can bring idea and story; conjure images – present and past.
Today I ran. And I realized – running is only a part of my story. A small part of who I am. Who I’ve become. Depression is another part of that story. Something I’ve dealt with on and off since I was a teenager. Another small part of who I am. But I’m beginning to believe that it’s part of more people’s stories than anyone lets on – maybe a small part. Maybe a large part. But I think we all struggle and suffer to tell our stories. To live those stories – to own them. The human experience is big, and loud and messy. But there’s something about that mess that binds us all together. We bring our own unique perspective. Our own struggle. Our own vulnerable humanity.
Part of depression is that I’ve always longed to be seen and heard for who I am. I haven’t always been willing to do the talking. And I rarely ever know who I am. But I’m learning.
In running I can own my story. Or at least begin to. Because if I don’t own my story – if I don’t tell it – who will?
Today I ran.