Sunday, August 29, 2010

Climbing while falling.

To the normal person, going from homelessness to living in a five-bedroom house in suburbia would seem like a very positive move. To me, it has been anything but.

The first week, I was comfortable - I hobbled around uni (as I was still recovering from Flinder's) contentedly in the knowledge that I would recover in a warm bed each night.

The second week saw my soul squirm within my body, as the desire to run again took hold. I started running on the Friday, attempting to rebuild my love of motion and the moment, which had been fairly well pounded out of me at Flinders.

The third week was going well, until I overheard something on the radio about the horror flick "the Human Centipede". Intrigued and misguided, I watched the trailer. "That Image" was burned into my retinas, and plagued my mind for many days. I had to keep reminding myself that it was only a film, and that no one would really do such things.

During the fourth week, when I had just about gotten over the centipede, my mind began to run away. The images from that trailer were replaced with worse ones of the horrific things human beings actually do to each other, and for inadvertently bringing them into my mind I felt inconsolably guilty. This seemed to be an attack of OCD, which was probably exacerbated by the Ibuprofen I was taking for my foot pain (I had had random anxiety after taking them for the first time).

In the fifth and current week the technological excesses of my current residence - two computers, four phones, three TV's etc... - caused me to have a small breakdown of sorts. It was at that point that I realised that I needed to get out of my Mum's house and back into the real world. The life experienced within the cozy walls of a well-equipped house is so abstracted from reality, so devoid of real emotion, that I hesitate in calling it life at all. So, by the end of the week, I have calmed my guilt/anxiety attacks by reading the words of the Dalai Lama, and have found a new place to live. It is about a mile from the trails in Chapel Hill, which is brilliant, but brings another another problem to mind - the spectre of injury. My left ITB has flared up like nothing else due to wearing soft shoes on a few occasions, reducing me to a pathetic 25km of running this week and I fear that I have the beginnings of a stress fracture on one of the metatarsals of my right foot. This is frustrating, and has left me feeling quite directionless, as far as running is concerned.

However, the positive is that this is how it should be. I have been re-reading "Born to Run" this weekend, and it has brought back some very fond memories. Those first five weeks of Uni this year, in which I logged 360kms (with two sumptuous 100km weeks and the same number of 50km long runs) may have been the most directionless that I have been in my life. Sure, I was supposedly training for a 12-hour track race, but I would roll out of bed each morning and hit the trail for no other reason than to become my surroundings and to relish in the joy of fluid, metronomic movement. I had no direction, as I was completely savouring the moment - the beautiful ecstasy at some points and the delicious fatigue at others. I now remember what I have to do to overcome my anxiety and to love life again: remove my material dependences, lose my direction, and be in the moment. First, I must let myself heal. Then I will build up slowly. Then I will run as much as my body wants, and as much as my joy permits. So with directionlessness in mind, I may not race at all next year, and if I do, it will be a spur-of-the-moment thing.

Additionally, during this time, Bogdan has introduced me to indoor climbing, which is becoming a fixture in my training routine, and will replace gym and possibly swimming aswell (atleast for the time being). The instinctiveness and childish joyfulness of the movement matches that of running the way it should be done.

It seems that my mental doldrums and despair over the last five weeks have served to set me back onto the road to this positive directionlessness. So with all this in mind, I will take a valuable lesson to my new home: everything works out for the best.

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