Posted: Sunday, July 1, 2012 4:30:38 AM
When I think back on my childhood, every one of my memories takes place in the open, electric air of my backyard. From age two to twelve, my whole life was outside. As a kid, it was where the world seemed vast and hopeful, growing and thriving for my benefit. But as I grew older, technology took hold, and I disconnected from nature. Living in the Arizona heat became an excuse to lock myself inside, soak in the AC and bar every last drop of blazing sun. But once I reconnected with nature, I realized just how much I had been missing out. Outside is simplicity. Outside is natural beauty. Outside is where the world is stripped from glamour and illusion, where one can see clearly. I believe everyone should find some way to connect with nature. For some, it may be the thrill of hiking up a mountain—for others, the tranquility of stargazing. For me, it is the feeling that my lungs have been set on fire; that I might just collapse from exhaustion. It is the feeling I get after a long run, and it both fuels me and connects me to nature.
Muscles throbbing, cramps twisting, a thick heat pressing down like an iron—it’s easy to see why most people would rather chew nails than go for a run. But all last year, running was my release. It was an immediate, rhythmic escape, and the one thing that could drag me outside and into the easy simplicity of nature. Under an endless sky, thundering up a hill or sprinting through the grass, I was completely and utterly free. I’d feel at one with the world, sunlight pouring in ribbons down my back, my feet slapping the pavement again, again, again. Here was beauty at its most uninhibited, life at its most raw. It was in those moments, lungs burning, breath fighting its way out in ragged, chopped releases, that I felt truly connected to nature. I was grounded, rooted to the natural earth by mind, body, and spirit.
For almost two years, running has been my release, escape, and inspiration. I run against all different backdrops, through all different seasons. In winter, I see death and stillness. Trees are bare and wanting, plants frozen over. But by summer, the world regains color and vibrancy; I see living, pulsating poetry. Thus, running became a source of comfort, the scenery a vivid reminder that out of endings come new beginnings. Often after running I am inspired enough to stay outside to write, hoping the beauty of nature will spill into my writing, desperate to capture even a fraction of its magnificence in the only way I know how. Nature inspires me not just to create, but also to forget. When I run, I forget my problems, my fears, my faults. I see the world in bright colors, ripe and bursting with life. And I hear only the sound of my feet slapping the pavement, again, again, again.