When the world goes mad…I run. Not away. I don’t run away from my problems any more. My pattern during a decade of unhealthy living was to run, hide, and eat when something upset me. My standard response now is to put on my running shoes, and to go.
What do you do when the world goes crazy?
This week has been a barrage of bad news. The images and stories coming out of Las Vegas have been horrendous, and I have struggled to process the emotions that have come with the stories. I don’t understand hatred. Images of the devastation in Mexico and Puerto Rico are heartbreaking. I cry for the families who have lost everything. We also have illness in the family. Cancer. And that is heartbreaking, too.
Just one year ago, I would have waited until everyone was gone. Until I was alone. And then I would have found my happy foods, and I would have eaten until I felt happy. Or until I felt sick–whichever came first.
Why I run
But now, I lace up my shoes. I go to my happy place–the outdoors. I listen to the crunch, crunch, crunch of my feet in the leaves on the trail. The birds call to one another, and I imagine I am part of their conversation. Sunlight hits the water of the lake, and it lights up the dark, unhappy places in my soul. When negative thoughts start to creep in, I run a little faster. Until I drown out all the fears, all the worries, all the soul-crushing angst that comes from the senseless violence in this world. Until the sweat washes away the frustration I sometimes feel with the unfairness of life. I run until I stop thinking about the things I can’t control. I run until I can’t hear anything but the silence.
And then I breathe.
This is why I run: I run so that I can breathe. You see, running doesn’t change any of those things that have pressed in on my soul this week. Lives have still been tragically cut short. Families are still homeless. Sickness still reigns. I can give my money, I can donate my time to help as much as possible, and I can pray for the lives of the people involved. But I can’t control what has happened. The only thing I can control is how I handle the emotions that come along with these events. And running gives me space to breathe. So that I can release the rage, the anger, the hurt, and sometimes the tears.
Find a quiet place
And then I find a quiet place to sit, and I take in the beauty around me. Those are the special moments…when my eyes are opened to things I’ve never noticed before. I see an ant carrying a load three times his size–doing his part to help his community. A squirrel creeps in close to me, diligently searching for the supplies he needs to make it through the long winter. The wind blows through long grasses, and I notice the way the sunlight glints off the ends, creating a field of gold. I hear laughter carried to me on the wind.
And the peace that I’ve been searching for comes to me.
Running changes me
These are the special moments…when my perspective is turned upside down. And although looking at things from a different perspective doesn’t change what has happened, it changes the way I feel inside.
Running doesn’t take away the evil and hatred and unfairness in the world. But running changes me. And as I sit in silence and look out across my fields of gold–in this moment, it is enough.