“One-hour dulcimer concert, or two minutes of waterboarding? Which would you choose?”

It’s an innocent question to my cohort on the desk (yes, “cohort” is our official job description). I’m reading a story about an upcoming dulcimer concert. I’ve read reporters’ first-person accounts of going through waterboarding and how it’s the most horrible experience they have ever endured. But they likely have never come across a well-meaning musician with an Appalachian torture device.

His face scrunches up. He’s giving it serious consideration. After a long pause, “Please don’t make me choose.”

I offer, “Unless it’s Joni Mitchell.” His face brightens in agreement.

Which leads to an hourlong debate on Joni’s best album. Which leads me home to spend the wee hours listening to “Blue.” Which leads me to the first song on the album, “All I Want,” performed on, yes, the dulcimer. And its opening lyrics:

I am on a lonely road and I am traveling
Traveling, traveling, traveling
Looking for something, what can it be
Oh I hate you some, I hate you some, I love you some
Oh I love you when I forget about me

Which sticks with me as I go out for my daily shuffle. How perfect is that sentiment for running? I am on a lonely road and I am traveling, traveling, traveling, traveling.

Actually, I am on a lonely track. Which is a little less lonely because an old guy with a pot belly is running furious 100-meter repeats, and the little rat dog from across the street is playing chase with me. But still.

Four travelings to a mile.  Traveling, traveling, traveling, traveling. I hate it some, I hate it some, then I love it some. I love it when I forget about me.

It’s so easy to think about yourself when you are running. I feel great. I hurt. I am cool. I suck. I am fast. I am slow. I am wearing huge blue freebie sunglasses that gives dorks  an air of superiority when they see me go by. But it’s not about me. It’s about The Run.

The Run is that thing in the cosmos that you hook your bungee cord on so you can be pulled along. It’s the secret runners know. Non-runners hate running because they never make it to the point where they forget about themselves. I think that’s when runners become lovers. When they come across that thing that lies waiting in the fog of foot strikes and GU dribbling down the singlet.

Gumbo had it right the other day. Respect the distance. You don’t crush races or kill courses. They just allow you to join them. The Run will be there long after your lactic acid has had its fill, after your knee cartilage is just a pleasant memory, after your ashes are enjoying their new home at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. You embrace the run while you may.

Today, I forgot about me. I forgot about the 20 mph wind. I forgot about the ITB and the ice pick in the heel and the monkey heart. I just loved The Run. Yes, I was looking for something. And I found it on old album from my misspent youth. Thanks, Joni.

And afterward, a chocolate milkshake. Thanks, Whataburger.

Tonight, we’re off to hear the screechy folk singer of the week at the Surf Club. I hope he brings a dulcimer.

I am on a lonely road and I am traveling
Looking for the key to set me free …


About gary

no sock monkeys were harmed in the making of this blog.
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