I was a lonely flyspeck on the earth

  • Thursday, December 14, 2017
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Did I ever tell you about the young Zoad,
Who came to two signs at the fork in the road.
One said to Place One, and the other, Place Two.
So the Zoad had to make up his mind what to do.
Well…the Zoad scratched his head, and his chin and his pants, 
And he said to himself, “I’ll be taking a chance...”
(Dr Suess)
I am the archetypal middle aged guy.
I have started to take myself too seriously, something that should not be possible for someone with a shiny head smoothed by the slipstream of life, five toed shoes and Austin Powers glasses. Here I am, weathered like rocks hollowed out by wind and dust over the millennia, with my hard granite dome, a man Matopas. I should be wiser, but I’m only more foolish.
It snowed here on Sunday so I went out in my Vibrams to enjoy the experience. I don’t want to call it a zen run because that is the type of serious middle aged post hippy shit I’m trying to avoid but that is exactly what it was. It was a zen run in the wind and the snow and bursting with the solitude I crave. I was a lonely flyspeck on the earth, shuffling along in my blue Norwegian jacket, the manufacturers label worn off by the friction of a thousand miles, creased like the face of an angry god but still keeping me dry and warm despite this.
It was not a training run at all - which I’ve had precious few of recently. I’m no longer a mileage whore having mellowed and allowed my running to subside into something altogether shorter and more sedate. This was a lekker, maar stadig run with lots of pauses for photography or standing in the stillness and the quiet, alone and waiting for the whisper of the still small voice.
When I left home the snow was fat, the flakes like the falling feathers of winter geese or dead angel kisses against my lips and cheeks before swirling past and dropping to the ground. By the time I got home the air was dry, cold and empty but my heart was full.
Zoad is a word that Dr Suess used deliberately in his poem about the choices we face in our lives and the direction we take. Read it. The root of the word is Greek that indicated a ladder. Running is my ladder, the vehicle of my ascent to a better level of wellbeing and equilibrium. My zoad.
Running is an act of prayer to the great Nkosi who dreamt me when there was only nothingness and formed me fearfully and wonderfully in my mothers womb. My feet crunching over the icy crust with liturgic stamp was the sound of the choir, steady and harmonic, touching heaven and earth, a ladder of hot breath, blood, sinew and blood connecting human and Divine as one. My congregation was the indifferent sheep, blissful in their frozen field, and my sermon was solace.
I’ve failed as I so often do. I don’t want to be serious. I’m not a serious man but this is what happens when I run. I can’t go out and run to simply record my pace, distance and calories burnt. Running is an act of love for me. I can’t help myself.

It’s lonely out there in the dark with only an inquisitive and possibly insane Fox for company

  • Saturday, December 09, 2017
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 “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.” – Lucille Ball
How do we live in a way that makes the most of life girl of stunning luminosity? How do we make the most of the short moments we have? How do we celebrate? Aristotle suggested that we should try to live and act thoughtfully. We should, he proposed, live in a way that enables us to explore and reflect on the ordinary happenings of life, as well as the extraordinary. We should also try to act out ordinary things in an extraordinary way. It’s probable that Aristotle was right. It’s also possible that he was a joyless bore.
I’m in no position to judge.
Each day has the potential to be extraordinary. Each day brings it’s own inherent gift.
When you reached out through distance and time it was a gift. A quick virtual brush of your fingertips and a hint of warm breath on my face like the sweet smell of African rain mixing with the hot red dust that I miss with the intensity that only a hole in the soul can produce.
I’m battling with life and I’m telling you this as the woeful romantic in me imagines you both waiting for the dawn and simultaneously carrying it within you, the guardian of trembling souls and hearts that know only how to trust. The responsibility is huge.
My expectations of you are high.
I’ve been studying on these things as I run because that is the medium I use to populate the blank canvas of my mind.  Last night I was doing lap after lap of a local school in the dark while my laaitie did football training. Every week there is a beautiful Fox with a thick coat of winter fur that sits on the marshy corner of the field at the furthest end of the school where it is darkest. Every time I come around for another lap she is there, crouched low and alert, her ears pricked and her muzzle tracking me like a gun and as I pass she gets up and follows me for a few metres. Odd I know and I don’t know why she does it. It’s both wonderful and slightly unnerving, I feel blessed and slightly menaced at the same time.
Tomorrow we will learn that we have lost a child, he’s been at our school for years but now his physical presence has been snuffed out by his highly complex physical and medical needs. It sucks and we will be collectively bruised by his passing, a little punch drunk and a little quieter for a few days. He was a fighter this kid, tenaciously scrapping for each new day, extending his life expectancy and refusing to give in.
Thank God I can run even if it is supposedly mind numbing laps. It’s lonely out there in the dark with only an inquisitive and possibly insane Fox for company, the floodlights around the football pitch are wreathed in an orange foggy haze and the grass on the field is starting to sparkle with the early evening frost. It’s colder than a witches tit but this is my celebration, reflecting, thinking and being emotional in the mundane. I love running, there is something deeply elemental about it, the fusing of brutal physicality with snot, tears and sweat, the hopes we have, the humanness of thought and the presence of love.
 “losing love  
Is like a window in your heart  
Everybody sees you're blown apart. Everybody sees the wind blow  “
Paul Simon.