Monday, May 16, 2011

I run naked!


I run naked.  Okay, well, not literally, of course.  Figuratively...in that life-encompassing, metaphoric way.  See, in most of my life I edit myself.  For example, I just visited imdb.com to view the latest movie trailers.  I am keenly interested in seeing Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, but you’ll never read about it on my facebook page.  I’m far more likely to post my interest in Tree of Life, the latest from Terrence Malick.  It isn’t untrue, it just isn’t the whole truth.  I will see Tree of Life, and in the theater at that, $10 price be damned.  I cried the first time I saw its trailer, and I loved Malick’s The Thin Red Line.  I’m more likely to post my interest in it because it is more emblematic of me, who I am and who I aspire to me.  If my friends, family, and distant acquaintances are going to know what movie I’m excited to see, Tree of Life will be it this season.  But, damn, Dylan Dog, looks like a blast!  It may call for a date night with my husband, $25 price of a babysitter be damned.

I spend a lot of time editing myself in this manner.  I think about the impression I make, the image of me that lingers when I leave a room.  I choose my attire with some care--okay, not for a trip to the grocery store, but definitely for a trip downtown.  I suck in my tummy; I pluck my chin hairs; I pose for pictures with my head tilted down and my neck extended forwarded like E.T. to fake the facial thinness I wish I had.  I try.

Some who know me might say I don’t try hard enough.  I am no fashion plate, Target fitting my budget better than Macy’s.  I shower a bit too infrequently, which I continue to blame on my babies, though they are now 5 and 2.  I don’t get a haircut but once every few years...yes, years...it is all one length so I can just chop it then leave it to grow.  Makeup gets applied to my face once a month or so--whenever my beloved husband and I can wrangle a date night out of our busy schedules.  And when it comes to conversation, I am capable of all sorts of public embarrassments, from killing a conversation to over-sharing.  I am NOT a trophy wife or a polished queen bee.  Still, I try.  To my critics, doubters, and naysayers I say, “Imagine what a disaster I’d be if I didn’t try at all!”

So back to running naked.  One of the reasons I love running is the way it strips me of all my trying.  I sweat, pant, heave, and occassionally hunt for a sheltered ditch or thick patch of shrubbery when nature calls too strongly to ignore.  When I start a run, I feel fear, and when I finish, exhaustion.  Running leaves me with no pretense.  It turns me into a sweaty, red-faced monster.  But it also leaves me smiling.

When I run, I find quiet.  I manage moments, even whole minutes, of clear-thinking.  Sometimes I systematically sort through questions or plans that at other times of the day I can only manage to worry over.  I rehearse conversations I want or need to have.  I worship; I pray.  Sometimes, when the run is long or the body fatigued, I cannot manage thought at all.  I count my steps (especially up long, steep hills) because plodding is all I can manage.

Running strips me down and leaves me with nothing but miles and minutes.  And in those miles and minutes I have found something I wasn’t expecting: victory.  Countless victories.  Stripped of beauty and pretense, I accomplish feats of daring-do.  Underneath the tricks I rely on to manage my life and present myself to the world, running reveals that there is something left.  Under it all, I am strong.  I have a will.  I have a body, and I can drive it.  I don’t need to run in the nude to run naked.  You should try it sometime.

4 comments:

  1. I have to confess: The classic 77's song "Pray Naked" was running thru my mind the entire time I read this entry :).

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  2. Precisely. I hadn't made the connection, but yes...right on!

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