21 August 2018

The great dialectic


Trummen was completely still this morning, with mist rising up as I came into the fifth kilometre and had the best view of Teleborg Slott, the castle, in the morning light. I looked up and around and felt the prick of seeing that I wanted earlier this summer, kneeling on mats in the Birmingham Buddhist Centre and waiting. I came around the corner and my Garmin Vivosmart HR+ buzzed the sixth kilometre, which was slower than I wanted and I picked up my pace, my body pulsing with the worst lie I know, the lie that will collapse in on itself before the semester begins: why run if you aren't going to run fast.

Running has been the great dialectic this summer, the thing I have loved while hating, and dreaded and desired and laid awake all night thinking about, through ninety minute sleep cycles and dreams that I can't believe I've had, the subconscious build up of experiences since June, or May, or April. All the countries, the travel, the planes, the hotels, people missing out of my life, my missing children and my missing wife. I've run faster than I've ever run — I confess it like a terrible sin I need forgiveness from. I ran to Hissö and looped the 1.1 kilometre road at the end of the island four or five times. The air was clean and clear and I thought this must make me run faster, but then doubted the thought — what difference does it make really, how clean the air is. It's a placebo. I looped around and let the thought come again, but then what does it matter if it's true or not, if it's true, and I breathed in deeply and ran up the hill towards the middle of the island and then off through the suburbs and back into Växjö. The Garmin Vivosmart HR+ buzzed at twenty-two kilometres and I jogged another five hundred metres. There was nowhere for me to go.

On Sunday, I went out to Björnamo on the bike Chris loaned me while I've been at the university. I rode, and my jacket came on and off as the mist built and dissipated and then became rain, or almost became rain. I sweated up the hills and around the bend, and when the cabin came into view, the door open and the black woodfired oven piping out smoke, the summer felt like it had ended. The clouds had come back down from the north, from wherever they have been hiding, and given enough time, the well won't be dry anymore. That's a question you ask at the cabin — has the well run dry. Because of the summer drought, you shouldn't mind getting wet now. You should sit out in the weather, whatever the weather is — a marriage of foxes, the sun both shining and the rain coming down in torrents, like a touch of stability, a hand that gently steadies things. Throw your head back and laugh. Everything comes around, doesn't it, if you just look.
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