I lace up my shoes and begin jogging on tired legs.
Ben Howard plays through my headphones and I think of how blessed my life has been. How the recent struggles, no matter how difficult, have been necessary.
Lake George is a small, vacation town, and I know no one. I don’t recognize faces as I run, but instead shops I’ve driven past, little landmarks like ice creams shops, and colored flowers decorating the tops of railings.
I pay little attention to all of this but instead of where I am heading to.
Yesterday I found a small, fenced off opening that leads to a paved trail in the middle of a forest for bikers and runners.
I find the fence after a few minutes and feel welcomed.
The trees tower above me, providing shelter as I go.
It’s early and there’s no one around me on the trail. Chipmunks dart up trees and broken leaves roll in front of me on the pavement. I move forward, feeling my strength and embracing my solitude.
I realize that that is the difference between when I am in nature and when I am surrounded by people or distraction.
Here, in the center of the forest, I am entirely alone but my solitude is not fought.
Instead I run deeper into it, trying to understand why I have fought the fear of loneliness before. Why I always pull out my phone at some point while eating at a restaurant by myself, or walking around a new town, or simply being in my own bedroom.
“I am just myself lately”, a teacher once had me write at the top of a paper as part of an entry assignment.
My self lately has been slightly rushed, worried, and fearful. I am often searching for a person, a place, an escape. Here, I embrace those insecurities with a grand welcome. I open my arms as I run now, facing my palms towards the sky, I am just myself lately, I say under the trees’ shade.
My breath falls in rhythm with it all, the music in my headphones seems to be orchestrated by the leaves’ swaying, the sun peeking. I notice how the leaves fall, almost deliberately, like small offerings. I notice the way the insects have chewed small holes in the ones still upon the trees’ branches, the light makes its way through easier that way.
Part of the trail goes over a bridge to a busy street. I see cars passing underneath and this part I dislike. Cars of reds, blues, and blacks rushing and honking. I don’t feel part of that world as I run but I know that I still am. I am a car-owning, often rushing, in search of somewhere, person.
I don’t have to be, I think sometimes. How much of my complications and worries are made up in my head? How much of my boundaries are set by me? How much do I really need?
What do you want for your life? The question lingers in the air in front of me, I reach for it, answering with certainty.
I don’t want a life of complication, but simplicity. I want to run through the trees and be able to appreciate how gracious they are. I want to run softly on their floor knowing that it has been lent to me to explore. I want to not pluck flowers, or toss rocks, but notice where they are, grown and placed on their own. I want to do the same with my life. Show up and gaze in amazement. Recognize what already is, only changing my thoughts, perspective, and ideas I imagine.
I want to show up for my life. I want to care for it with a sense of freedom and confidence, knowing that it belongs to me.
That it begs me to live it fully.