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A Mental Exercise

There is something very simple and straight-forward to running. Especially to my running, which barely passes for running at all.

Let me drop a comment about my morning run. Not because anything of particular interest happened, but simply because it gives me the opportunity to mention it. That I went for a run. In the AM.

While running, fiction becomes a most welcome distraction ... Photo: Istock.

If this was Facebook, I could have posted a snapshot of the sunrise, along with the caption ”Splendid running conditions at 5 AM today!” That’s something my highly accomplished Face-friends would do. The news feed leaves the impression that they have more energetic lives than what one otherwise only can find in Bollywood movies.

But this is a blog, digging a little deeper to convey hard truths. Like the fact that my running in the morning is not a routine, but rather a result of insomnia when I’ve been up all night; or that my sneakers smell like biochemical waste; and that a colony of spiders is hanging in the back stairs, forcing me to take the elevator to get to my car.

According to “Women’s Health”, running is a mental thing. One would perhaps assume that the legwork is essential, but, apparently, one would be wrong.

There is something very simple and straight-forward to running. Especially to my running. Which can, strictly speaking, hardly pass for running at all – other than on Facebook. I shuffle. Shuffling is a gait where one strives to keep the better part of both shoe soles in touch with the ground at all times. Like a lowrider, I let my whole chassis sag, jam heavy bass into my ears so I don’t have to listen to my own breathing, and run like Rocky Balboa – wide-legged and bobbing.

The park is dusky and empty with the exception of some hobos using the benches to sleep on. Ominous red dots glow from the day’s first cigarettes. The clouds are heavy with pending rain, making the summer air of South Florida like a bathroom after someone’s had a long, hot shower.

According to “Women’s Health”, running is a mental thing. One would perhaps assume that the legwork is essential, but, apparently, one would be wrong. The main challenge aims above the collar. I’m not entirely convinced about this myself, as I feel gravity sucking me towards the Earth's core. I might stretch into admitting that things do scramble around inside the head during a run. Or, like some people more poetically describe as “letting the mind wander”.

As I shuffle around and around the football field, overwhelmed by my own lousy physique, the smell of my sneakers and eventually a sprinkler system, I flee into my mind, slamming shut the bulkheads behind me one by one. Safely inside, I turn on the small energy-saving bulb and think about work. Frequently, I attempt to write and invoice someone for it. The rest of the time, I spend dreading to write. It’s tough plowing. And Inspiration never pops up when I need it. Instead it emerges as inconveniently and unpleasantly as hiccups. I don’t like to write, but I really enjoyed having written. Temporarily left to myself inside my head, fiction becomes a most welcome distraction ...

Her body, a toned and attractive killing machine, is about to fail her!

The heroine, Max Swagger, is being chased through the damp, tropical jungle. The drug smugglers are hot on her heels, armed with machetes and automatic rifles. Max runs swiftly and gracefully. Her skin is slick from sweat, but her breathing steady. Suddenly, she spots two of the smugglers lying in ambush. The glow from their lit cigarettes gives them away. Max cuts away and flees like a deer at the last minute. Angrily, she bites her lip. Should she rather stop and fight? She’s a master of Muay Thai, Sumo Wrestling and catfighting, and can easily take out eight or ten gangsters armed to their teeth. But alas, there is no time. She needs to get to the Secret Monkey Temple to return the Golden Scepter. So she runs, but soon her strength is waning. The syringe with the strong anesthetic drug which the double-agent – that creep – injected Max with previous to her daring escape through the jungle, is starting to take effect. Her body is a toned and attractive killing machine, but now it's about to fail her! Max Swagger bravely fights on. Her strong mental capacity, honed after years of meditative training among Tibetan monks, enables her to disregard the pain and fatigue. Finally! The Monkey Temple comes into view through the lush jungle foliage. Max brushes aside thick cobwebs and poisonous spiders, barely noticing. The temple is locked! Despair rises in her throat, almost choking her. Can she pick the lock? After all, she grew up a car thief in the streets of Rio! Her vision is foggy as she looks down on the Golden Scepter which she still holds in her hand. Instinctively, she realizes that she’s had the key the whole time! The door slides open and the cool interior of the temple greets her. Max Swagger stumbles through the opening and pushes the door closed before she finally allows unconsciousness to wash over her like a dark tidal wave.

After some more huffing and puffing, I start the car. Of course running is a mental exercise.

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