A Fall For Time


Musings / Friday, June 1st, 2018

Picture this.

It’s a cloudy, overcast morning in Bangalore. There is a hint of rain in the air and it is refreshingly pleasant at 21 degrees Celsius. I am a bit late for my run. It’s 6:45AM. I had spent an inordinate time looking out of my window today.

I look at my phone, wondering if I should just work out inside my apartment. But today is Friday – it’s my RunDay, and when the weather is just pulling you like that, I can’t resist.

Running shorts -check.
Running sweat-absorbent T-shirt – check.
Running shoes – check.
Smartphone – check.
Earphones – check.

A short warm-up and I am set. Usually, I run 5k on Fridays, but I want to see if I can push myself a little bit more without getting bored. I set the app for 6k, select my music, and I am off. A young man runs ahead of me, and I run past him. I look at my previous time for 6k – 34 minutes. Hmm, I think. That’s hardly a great time, SM. What were you thinking? Perhaps, today I will see if I can best my time. I pace myself, thinking I should have enough in the tank to push myself towards the end.

1km, 2km, 3km, 4km – the miles sweep by slowly. 5km passes by. I grimace. Today is not a great running day. Just under 30 minutes. Would I be able to run a 4-minute one next to complete 6k? 500m left the app announces. Time to up the ante, I think. I remove my earphones and wrap it around my fist. It dangles awkwardly. My feet pound the pavement. As I run, I am annoyed by the earphones around my fist. They don’t sit snugly in my palm. I would need to slow down to shove it into my pocket. I can’t afford that. I turn the corner. The earphones slip down from my fist. I look at my smartphone. 700m. Just another 200m. But I have already gone over my personal best. I won’t be able to break that time. I look at the phone in frustration. I look at the earphones that just don’t seem to sit well. And then…

My feet stumble on an uneven step in the pavement, and I stumble before falling flat on the ground. My phone flies out of my hand and lands a foot in front of me. The security guard turns around startled. A man holding his child glances at me, stunned. I lie on the ground for one moment. And then, I laugh. I scramble up hurriedly, wave off the security guard who is moving towards me, and run the remaining 200m with my palms stinging where I had scraped the ground. I finish at 35:56. Not a great time, but what a great time I have just had.

I chuckle to myself. What a fall from grace. I meditate for an hour every day. I try hard to be mindful. And now and then I get a kick from the Universe when I get ahead of myself.

Running, at its best, is being in the flow. It’s the purest sport you can think of – feet over feet – you, the air, and the ground in harmony. It’s meditative. When you run, you can have a thousand thoughts in your head, but you run best when you are one with the rest of your body. When I went splattering to the ground like a worn-out potato, I was anything but run-full. I was annoyed with minor things, looking at my earphones, the smartphone, and wondering if the GPS was working right. I wasn’t running. I was just being what we are in life – forgetting about living the present moment because we want to ruminate about the past and obsess over the future. Not that we should not think of either of these two dimensions of Time, but just as I forgot to look in front of me while running, we don’t look at what is in front of us when we do that.

Landing on the ground made me laugh at myself. At my vanities. At my goals. At my need to control every aspect of life. When I landed on the ground with a thud, when my ankles scraped the pavement, and my palms bruised into life, I realized that little by little, I am learning about life. Just a little. And I know what a fool I be. 🙂

May you be mind-present today.

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