I can ignore the act of running for only so long. Some mornings the dark and the cold are too much to get me out the door. Sometimes I just don’t feel like expending the energy to factor the appropriate amount of clothing to deal with the changing weather. Sometimes I’m just too damn busy to run. Deep down, however, there is a pressure cooker building steam and after a few days I just can’t take it. I Have. To. Run. It might be catching a glimpse of trail winding into the woods. It might be watching someone else trot down the street. Whatever it is, that urge to get out and run, to move, to feel that sense of velocity and (dare I romanticize it) “freedom” takes over me. It’s a compelling force that seems almost external it’s so strong. So I throw on my shoes, nearly bolt out the door and take off down the street to see what happens.
I do this, this act of running, for many reasons I’ve drawn out on this blog previously and I’ll spare you the rehashing. What I don’t want to neglect though is the appreciation I have for my ability to run, not running “well”, but just running, the ability to move relatively freely. I never take for granted the freedom I have to run the streets, down the trails, into the city, back home. When training for my attempt at the Marathon Trials I constantly feared injury or mishap that would render me unable to move, unable to train. It was excessive worrying, but the thought of a broken leg, severely twisted ankle, etc. was cringe-inducing, and although the stakes aren’t as high now, I don’t like to imagine any scenario where my body is effectively useless.
I think of my sister who was taken by cancer, once a runner, but ultimately eaten from the inside to the point that moving off the couch was impossible. To have the awareness of running ability reduced to immobility must have been mentally torturous. I don’t know how I would cope to be honest. So yeah, I sound rather bleak here, but this serves to highlight the appreciation I have for being an able-bodied, active individual. And to think, my sister was rendered immobile by a disease, while others are due to self-neglect. My sympathy has its limits.
Then there are the other victims of immobility, the animals we have stolen into domestication and objectify as food products. Their immobility haunts me. Have you ever considered the toll immobility must take on these sentient creatures? Here is the thing…you can’t. Yes, you can imagine how YOU would feel confined in a 3 foot by 5 foot space (which might be generous), but can you REALLY empathize with how that must feel to others? I can’t. My mind instinctually diverts itself when I try to imagine the anguish of being unable to move, unable to escape. I’ve seen the toll this sort of immobility takes. I’ve seen the dead chickens lying on the floors of factory farms, their bodies grotesquely swollen till immobility and death sets in. I’ve seen the mink who are so racked with immobility that they swing their heads back and forth, bite at the wires that cage them to alleviate boredom, pace madly to fend off the effects of confinement. I’m proud to say I also gave thousands of them respite from their mental anguish and watched them sprint towards freedom. This is, however, a cyclical system of immobility and hundreds of thousands more are born and bred into this confinement, living out their lives in mental and physical anguish, never knowing what it is to run, jump, relate, swim, fly….move. Not only confined, but not understanding why. Only wanting to NOT be confined. “Torture” doesn’t adequately do it justice.
And we complain about being stuck in traffic.
I am appreciative of my ability to run, to be mobile. I don’t take it for granted and seize every opportunity available to get out there when the motivation is strong, because if someday I do end up immobile (chance forbid) I want to know that I never wasted the ability, never gave in to passivity, took hold of momentum always. It is cliche, but I run because I can.
And for those that can’t run, that are confined by our stupid, unthinking routines, that have been rendered immobile by the unempathetic dictates of supply and demand, what will you do for them? Can you extend the appreciation and understanding you have for your own mobility to their circumstance? Can you see it through to make a simple dietary change that removes you from the processes that create their confinement?
Consider the physical and mental value of your mobility. Then consider how to grant the same to the non-human animals confined by our systems. Go vegan.