I know now why I used to run.
I mean, I suppose that at that time, I had reasons, and they were valid. But you hardly know the gist of a situation when you’re in the thick of it.
And now that I’m super far removed from running – it’s been almost an entire year – my motivations are coming more and more clear to me. Like a magic eye – one of those pictures where you have to cross your eyes and get far away from the picture to see the image (which, by the way, I could never see) – the picture is becoming clearer the further and further I am removed from it.
Running was an escape. Quite literally. As an introvert who has always been sharing a space with someone else, running was my way of getting the heck out of dodge.
When you run, you run alone. (Unless you are a buddy runner, of which I was definitely not – oh I ran with people on occasion, but solo running was my bread and butter.) You can actually get away from people asking you questions, or leaving out their dirty socks, or noises from the television that you don’t care to hear. You can get out of that shared space where you feel like you don’t really “own” anything, and finally feel free. That’s what running did for me. It made me feel free.
Being alone is freeing to me. Even as a kid, when my parents first started leaving me alone at home even for just an hour, I loved it. It was my favorite time. I was never bored during these hours. I felt unleashed and like I could finally be myself. I ran around the house, made funny faces at myself in the mirror, danced wildly, read tear-jerking books and felt no shame in letting my tears roll down in buckets. I finally didn’t have to pretend to be someone else. I didn’t have to follow anyone else’s rules. I didn’t have to be considerate of anyone else, and no one else could bother me because they just weren’t there.
As an adult, I still feel this way. I am getting married in exactly three weeks, and although I love my future husband more than I can say, I am rarely disappointed when he has to work late, or goes away for the weekend and I’m at home alone. I actually really look forward to these times. I can be in our space, free.
For about a year now, I’ve quit running to focus on yoga. And I love yoga. I do. But, now that I’ve been involved on a deeper level for about a year, I can say with certainty that yoga is not an escape. Yoga forces you to be present. Yoga limits you to a space on a mat and the surrounding areas – you are not free to travel, to explore, to wander – you stay rooted, planted, concentrated, disciplined.
It’s done wonders for my personal life. I am a much much better person because of yoga. It has taught me to stay calm and present in the midst of adversity – whether in the form of a life crisis or a leg that won’t stop shaking from fatigue in a warrior series. It has taught me how to be flexible, both on and off the mat. It has reconnected me with God, with the Life Force, with the present moment.
But holy shit. Sometimes I just can’t concentrate. Sometimes I just can’t get away from my thoughts and it drives me nuts. Sometimes I can’t get away from the future husband and the four animals and the child and the noises of the neighbors, and so I could go to a yoga class but then I have to socialize and wear appropriate clothing and act in a certain way and all I really want to do is be free. All I really want is to have my own tiny little space to retreat to, when everyone is driving me nuts and I can’t take it and I just need to be.
And, really, this is why yoga is good for me. It doesn’t let me run away. It forces me to be present, even when I really don’t want to be. It forces me to have stability and presence and to choose between two crappy alternatives, when there is no ideal. Because, let’s face it, that’s what life is.
So now I’ll continue on my little grumpy path, and hopefully soon I’ll learn how to be ungrumpy when faced with two choices that I don’t necessarily like.
…and in the meantime, I’ll keep working on my yoga studio, so I can have that retreat. 🙂