Friday, November 09, 2007

Mama Says Om - Running

Running is one of those words which one hears constantly in conversation, and we seldom (if ever) consider its origins. The word dates from before 900 CE and traces its origins back through the Middle English rinnen or rennen, the Old Norse rinna or renna, thence the Old English rinnan meaning continuing or partly continuing. In our own speech, the word describes rapid forward motion undertaken for the oft mundane purpose of arriving somewhere, getting there in a great hurry or a flap and sometimes just for the pleasure of it.

In running, everything comes together, the food we have consumed being converted into fuel for locomotion (great word that!), deep breathing in and out, our muscles expanding and contracting in accordance with instructions sent out by the proprioceptive system.

Running is a flowing thing and truly elegant thing. It's a moving celebration of life and something of a meditation when done properly, maintaining perfect equilibrium and looking as though one is floating along a few inches above the ground. In my younger days, I was a passable runner, although probably not very graceful and never poetry in motion. I loved my morning runs, the feeling of the wind blowing through my hair, the day coming alive around me, the good dark earth rolling away under my sneakered feet like a spool of satin ribbon unwinding into the early light. On those morning runs, the world was a place of magic and infinite possibility.

Every sentient creature runs and runs in its own way. Every watery tributary on the planet from intermittent springtime creeks to unfettered mountain rivers is running somewhere, and it sings as it goes along. Rivers run down to the sea, and horses run like the wind, as they were born to run. So do wild felines and the greater coursing canines like wolfhounds, greyhounds and lurchers. Over the years, I have spent a fair amount of time sitting by rivers or leaning on an old fence somewhere and watching wild things in motion - it has always been the very best sort of time. I marvel at the seemingly effortless movement of rivers and canines through the landscape, at their joy and their certainty that they are meant to be here and doing this liquid floating thing in this moment. We could all use a little more of that joy and certainty in our lives.

Being somewhat elderly, I do most of my running in my dreams these days, but when I awaken, the joy, the freedom and the sense of wildness remain with me. I seldom remember whether I was a river, a horse or a wolfhound in those dreams, but I remember skimming along above the ground with the wind in my hair, and that is a fine old feeling.

Written for the effortlessly flowing mamas at Mama says Om.


Endment said...

This week - perhaps more than normal - I am enjoying watching other things run and flow :)
Your post has stimulated my brain and it is now "flowing"

Your photo allows effortless joy to surge and run :)

Anonymous said...

This took me right back to when I was four or five, when I used to pretend to be a horse, and 'cantered' everywhere. The joy and freedom of it - I had long dark hair in a pony tail and I really believed I was a horse.

julia said...

Such a beautiful picture...
I also long to run freely, along the beach, through the gorge, across a field of stubble...
Guess it's time to let the good old French healthcare system loose on my bad knee?
(Tess, I also cantered everywhere but I was riding an imaginary pony called Toffee)

Tabor said...

Interesting that it originally meant getting somewhere rather than an end in itself.