Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Joy To Be

Old Flowertown race start,
brother David in jeans left of dogwood tree
on sidewalk

For the most part I am over my decision to lose my foot in order to regain my life. When I see my stump - which is just easier to say and write than "residual limb" - I have some pangs, well, not of remorse but of disbelief that I have no right foot. I see my Nike encased left foot, on a strong left leg that could propel me above the rim, or when paired with it's mirrored twin, run as far and as long as we cared to go...and it is itching to fly again. The right is just itching and cannot be scratched.

There is one thing I want to think of often but do not dwell on or bring into the light for very long: running again on my prosthetic leg. I see it out there, this dream where I am running, flying again in the flowertown in the pines, my favorite race.

I could probably run it blindfolded: down Laurel Street and the playground where I played Little League ball and later pickup basketball; past the Episcopal Church, which in spring would cause atheists to consider attending a service in its loveliness; around President's Circle, just keep turning left and you won't get lost; down Linwood Lane where my high school pal David Laudig lived; cross West Carolina and onto Sumter and some of the most beautiful historic homes in the town; past the VFW hut and where the race use to start some years ago; turn onto Richardson with a slight uphill finish. Kick your guts out.

All along the course I see the ghosts of my past; they are welcoming in their spirits. Hello Tom, my old employer. Hey Boobie and Tubby, who's got game? David, are you going to Explorer's this week? Eric, I'm going long, let 'er rip!

And yes, I see my brother, standing near the Catholic church, silent now. I wave to him.

I think of running at odd and not so odd times. On the way to work. Doctor's office visit. Driving to lunch. Sitting here on the couch. Alone with my thoughts.

Rarely do I look at my leg and feel any self-pity. It does seem very strange that I, a runner all of my life, have no right foot. It was my decision and I know it was right, that this time will pass and soon I will run again.

It is the thought and dreams of running that charge me with emotion and can bring tears. The pure animal joy of moving through time and space.

I am an animal.

I see myself running like a deer along the side of the road as I drive into work. In my dream I am racing, feeling the pull and release of the muscle and tendon, the foot impact, compression and then ever so briefly, airborne. I see my running companions, none of whom I train with but all of whom have wings and we, a colored flock of avian souls, strain higher toward our common destiny.

We are flying in the pines.

This thing is holy, this is my church, my now. I live here, in this moment.



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