Friday, March 5, 2010

No longer surefooted

I used to run well earlier.

All I needed was a stretch of soft springy earth - sometimes even a concrete road would do, and my feet would come to life. Break into a swift sprint. I would easily transform myself into being a human powered moving machine. I would exult as I ran, enjoying the steady rhythm of my heart as it beat harder, pumping blood to the extremities, wind running through my hair, and the delicious feeling of blood beating against the temples. And when I would stop and drop on my seat, I would hang my head down, enjoying the slowing down of breath, feeling the sweat trickle down and the warmth settling down, from my heart to finally the tip of my fingers.

Never a marathon runner, I loved running for running sake, and though I did not mind walking, many a times I had to restrain myself to walk sedately as I went around doing my chores and study routine. I would run up stairs, jump down from fences, slide on banisters, simply out of the joy of being a bundle of muscle. I would never ever walk down staircases, one step at a time, I then felt sure of that. I am sure I stumbled and fell down several times, but I don't remember those events. I just remember the running.

Back then, I used to wonder why people walked. Why don't they run, when they can't walk - was one of my Marie Antoinette style thoughts.

I miss running like that. I miss the hot breath and the coolness which would come on the limbs on drinking plain water. I miss the spring in my step.

I am growing old, I whisper to myself, when this desire takes over me. I am now meant for the gentler joys of contemplation and appreciation and applause. Meant to amble slowly, watch the flowers bloom, smell the road side fragrance from the bushes, and watch the squirrels crunch their nutty meal. These sights and smells are better, since they linger much later after the leisurely walk, I coax myself. I never saw them when I was running, did I, I argue. And there are many like me, who don't run anymore, right? So why this urge?

Try as I might, I am not able to shake this need off, of wanting to run again. To once again launch my body into space.

Age, alas, tells me that I am surefooted no more. I don't know think I agree completely, as I know it is not just about muscle, it is really about the fear that has settled down on my chest, of falling down, of hurting my ankle, of pushing my heart over the edge, or some other such nameless terror. Fear of something I could do very easily, with pride in my skill, without a thought of failure earlier, is now upon me, making my heart crumble and my gut cringe.

Surely I can do this again. I want to run.

I won't. I can't. You see, I am not surefooted anymore.