There really is something healing about hitting the trail and pushing the pace, letting the sweat pour. The endorphins kick in, you shift away from the worldly universe of daily troubles and wounds, and enter in a place of such spiritual beauty is reaches all your muscles, buries deep warm into the marrow of your being, healing… healing.
I’d gone to bed last night with every intention of climbing a 3,500-plus Catskill Mountain this morning, but given that I am just getting back into condition, common sense prevailed. I remember years ago when I ran marathons (very slowly I might add) I would repeatedly read and hear that our minds are ahead of our bodies on the conditioning front.
But I hit it hard today, and I brought Charley who is, I must say, one helluva trail dog. He will celebrate his second birthday the 30th of this month and he and I have been sharing life since the day he turned six weeks old. He has been on the trails from the beginning with me.
As I walk I am reminded of how the woods was always refuge when I was a boy, always it was a place of safety, a place where my imagination could dance and move and create and jump for joy in utter freedom. Realities of life surface for me here, knowing , for example, that while you can love people, you cannot free them of that which blocks them from knowing they are loved. All you can do is love, keep the “door open”, keep going.
I am walking up an incline and instinctively lean forward and push the pace. Charley, of course, cheats. He has four legs. Pushing the pace is an old habit that has no intention of dying. I have the same feeling about on incline on the trails as I did and do climbing hills on a bike; there is a very intense personal relationship between me and the earth, and here we are in a kind of friendly arm-wrestling match. The earth throws me an incline and I see if I can reach the top without stopping. Do I succeed every time? No, of course not, not yet anyway. And when I can’t, I stop and breathe and smile and often my eyes tear up because I am filled with joy because I am alive to have this moment.