21



With a decade more on the clock, this post is not about turning 21. I can’t even remember that day. Crap, I’m old..
But back to the meaning of 21. It’s simply the distance. My distance. 21,12 km to be exact. My last block saw 90 minutes, 12 km total distance and averaging 8 km/hour. A little below my comfort zone. My longest run of the week is always Sunday early morning and last week's was 110 minutes, 16,75 km and 9 km/hour. This week I wanted to finish my six weeks with the scheduled 2 hour run and hopefully 19 km. I woke a half hour later at 6.30 am (Saturday nights off are junk food and dancing like a maniac so I need that extra snore time) peeped out the window, saw the frost and my heart sink almost as low as the outside temperature. To be honest, I am dead nervous every time I run. So nervous I can never keep anything in. That nervousness only disappears when I turn the key in the lock and step outside. 
Then I just go. And I went Sunday, as usual of late with no tunes, no distractions. The sun comes only about an hour in, so just the stillness of the morning. And I ran and ran and ran some more. I ran till the dog-walkers and mountain-bikers came out. I looked at each person I ran towards, smiled and said good morning because I look up now and fear not being unanswered. I ran till the sun came out. I ran till my fingers were so frozen I started clapping, fist bumping, hand waving and anything else I could imagine to try and get some feeling back. Only then did I realise that the numbness went up to the elbow, but more importantly that the first hour had already passed.
I gave up on the digits and just let them be numb. It’s about my legs anyways. I count to six hundred because somehow I can’t keep numbers straight after that. Sometimes I lose track and start the count again and sometimes I don’t realise I’m counting out loud when I need some extra push. The push is all mine. It’s just me. I run against and for me. I get lost when I run, nothing really matters and yet I know I’m not shut-down but attuned. I know my steps, I recalculate my route, I adjust my breathing. Just me and the path, even when I’m on the tracks so muddy they can’t be called paths (note to self not after a winter rain). Funny but just seconds after my phone said ‘congratulations’ and my watch started bleeping there was a double stripe going across the road instead of down the center, exactly like a finish line and I could have stopped and a part of me wanted to but I stop when I can pound my fist against my front door because I’m home. It is door to door and no less. 
And even more importantly I wanted that half a marathon distance. I could smell it, feel it, see it, just at my fingertips, I could almost touch it. I hungered for it. So I count harder, till I see my door and only then will I look at the tracker because time and distance doesn’t matter till I’m done. At my door it was 20,4 km and that was not my goal. The tracker fell off my arm then, so I quickly scooped it up and held it in my arms for that last lap around the block till I reached my door again and saw 21. I’m mostly silent but then I let out a stream of profanity, did a Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins style jump and foot clap in the air thingy and pumped my fist against that blue door. I made it. 2 hours and 12 minutes, 21,12 km and averaging 9,6 km/hour. Nothing else mattered. I fucking made it!
I went in, removed my muddied trainers, sat down and called to see where the kids where because I forgot they were coming later, made a coffee and went up to my room to quietly drink it and maybe take a well-deserved nap at breakfast time. And then came part two..
I sat down, thought gosh "I’m so.." and promptly burst into tears. Hot, heavy, happy, relieved tears. I cried for ages in bed and then in the shower and the rest of the day right up till the moment I fell asleep. Why I started I’m not sure. I was thinking "I’m so happy" and then there is no one here to say that "you’re amazeballs" and finally "that is ok" because this is personal, this is me. Just me. So intimate that I couldn’t bear any contact that day besides my kids, not even for a millisecond, not for the most basic of conversations, not even from behind my screen. My kids are my love but my intimici is me. I now reside in my core, in the very center of my heart and that is somewhere I have never been. But the word that matters most is not the me, it’s the just. I cried because 21 was my release. I didn't know it what it was coming and it caught me completely off guard.
I think in images and feel so very much and so very deeply. Before a run I fold my arms and say two things; thank you and namaste and when I do see and feel my breath rise and fall on a single winter flower drooping from the frost. The saying 'it is a curse and a blessing to feel so very deeply' is me. When I was a teenager and in later college others found me stuck-up because of my quiet and lack of general interaction. And on other levels my withdrawing from physical contact drove the one mad but touch is everything to me, all the other senses combined. I don't interact because I'm stuck-up but because I sense so much and feel so much, all the things below the surface that I'm so easily overloaded by all the things said but more importantly the things I sense. I withdraw from contact because when you hurt me and touch me it burns, if you make me happy it buzzes, if you lift me up it reverberates and when you excite me, well that's fire. I feel energy and that is not an easy but so intense that it must be quite difficult for others to understand. For that reason I pulled back and tried to take all the sharp edges off. I realise now that is the most tiring part of all. To feel but to live those feelings on brakes and toppers is almost unbearable. I am above and below all a feeler. That sense, so often overlooked, is the one that runs straight through me, it is my pulse.
Release? All the images, all the moments, all the feelings of the past whizzed by in my head and left. Everything from the you are not worth effort then or now, to a unremarkable lazy Sunday morning being remarkable because there I was in bed with a family, to my son bungling from my chest sleeping and snoring in the sunshine as I biked with my other two loves on the bike next to me and feeling the sunshine on the inside too, to you will never leave me, to change these things about you or I will leave you, to you’re so anti-social, to freedom tears on the plane ride, to you’re the most unattractive girl ever, to seeing my home-made mother's day card thrown in the thrash that same day, to mom in the ER and dad being questioned by the police while you suck your thumb shaking, to I never wanted you, to wondering why I couldn't find a way to play with the other pre-schoolers and every moment in between. All the moments that were deeply significant to me and that I couldn't place, couldn't understand, couldn't accept, couldn't bear. Release means I don't need to. It just is.
It is. No more, no less. I remember asking my love what was the point of life and his answer was to be happy. I was always searching for mine. For me it became to live. And then to breathe. And now it is to just be. And that gives me peace. I still cry but not for sadness or pain or anything that is has been for awhile, whether on the surface or hidden. I cry because I feel. I was never broken or getting there as quite a few kept saying. Not broken, so not fixed, simply just. Just as it is. Just as I am. 
Just means to live, breathe, be. To accept the past and to rise above it through the present and further. To see not a chapter but an entire book of chapters, chapters one to thirty one, close. Till it hurt and back. To go inwards till you arrive outwards. Till I could see the beauty of now. To just be(gin) a new book. Book two: To just be.. It is neither a blessing or a curse. It is a gift.




P.S. the picture I found here, with an accompanying saying from Buddha.

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