Thursday, July 28, 2011

Transcending Pain and Running through light.

Recently I started running.  I wanted to see if I could reduce my rare chronic pain disorder through fitness.  I've poo pooed on running 95% of my life.  I used to joke, "What's the point?  You just end up where you started."  I was ignorant.

I run in a local park I can reach by foot from my house that has a few trails.  Running with cars sucks.  Running with trees, birds, water, and sky is bliss.  Last night to beat the heat, I went for a run by moon light in the park.  Mind you the heat index at 12:30 am when I left was still in the upper 80's.  It was a 3/4 moon and I got more than I requested.

The run to the park is boring.  About a mile of necessary sidewalk to reach the wooded trail.  I turned down the trail and about 100 yards in I saw joy.  The light of the street lamps now gone, I was swallowed by the fireflies.  Their numbers were staggering.  I was immersed in a blanket of blinking lights that stole my breath.  I was swimming.  I was floating.  I was gliding like a spaceship through a sea of stars going supernova.  Each one bursting with light only long enough to pick out an individual and then it was gone.  Gone forever.  I was free falling.  I put my hands up like you do on a roller coaster when you are a child.  I had no voice to scream.  It didn't make sense anyway.  Bullfrogs cheered with their deep voices like it was the most awesome fourth of July fireworks presentation.  Crickets chirped with a deafening harmonic.  And so I leaped.

I leaped up and out.  I leaped deep and in.  I leaped to thoughtlessness.  My mind was quiet.  I left my pain with the body so I had escaped it too.  I thought of nothing.  I just witnessed from within and out.  For 400 yards I was neither here nor there.  I wasn't even.  I was gone.  Then I made the left I always do and climbed up and away from the scene of the crime.  It was over.

With the fireflies gone, the bullfrogs silent and the chirps missing I slipped back into myself.  But I had the pain of the run.  So I focused on that.  I focused in a positive way.  I have chronic pain so this was nothing in comparison and I focused on it only to keep me from replaying my days.  I wanted to be someplace with out worry and the focus on the pain was helping.  The dark was playing tricks on me now.  I was in the woods and my mind was filling in the blanks my eyes failed to sense.  Figures and shapes appearing in the black.  I climbed up and up.  Suddenly and unexpectedly, I had arrived at my destination.  I didn't know I was going here but there I was.

I stood on the hillside peering over an unobstructed view of the park.  The fireflies were now a hundred feet below me.  Dense.  Very dense.  I was here on the hill and there in the prairie with the fireflies.  I was also touching the moon and swimming in the lake.  I stopped running.  I didn't want to move on.  I wanted to build a house right there and move in.  It was lonely, like I needed to be.

I think of the fireflies on my windshield differently now.


  1. Thanks, Mike, for the beautiful imagery. Our backyard is full of fireflies, but not since I was a child have I run among them. I am inspired.

  2. I challenge you to catch one and put it on your nose. You are guaranteed to feel happy.


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