The creek of life: A year of running

Song: “Move Along,” All-American Rejects
I live near a creek. It’s great for racing wooden boats and throwing rocked into.
It, like many creeks in my section of Appalachia, is polluted by coal-mine runoff. The rocks have a rusty-orange coating that turn your clothes into shades of acid-mine runoff. It’s a permanent reminder of your visit and the life flowing through the creek.
I run by this creek on a daily basis, as my local rail-trail follows its path. On a recent 5-mile run, I thought of how my life has been like that creek.
This week will mark one year since I took up running in earnest. Back then, walking a mile was strenuous. Now, I try to run at least four miles before I call it a workout.
I can’t believe it’s been a year. I’m not going to celebrate it with cake — though I did make a chocolate mousse thing for my spouse’s “rebirth as a runner.”
I wasn’t reborn. I ran for basketball and track and field in high school. I ran because it was part of my training. I was fast, but I was too preoccupied with being an awkward, nerdy teen to care.
Back then, my dad gave me a speech about how I was talented and I should make good use of what I had. Like myself, he had a hard time fitting in at school. He was a talented athlete, but too smart to hang out with the jocks of the 1970s. He didn’t find his niche, and he didn’t want to see me become like him.
In some ways I fell harder than he did. My dad still has his integrity. I’m rebuilding mine.
Integrity, has its root in the word “integer,” a whole number. When you have integrity, you act the same in any given situation. If someone saw you at home, you’d be the same as you were at work or on vacation.
Like the steam flowing by my house, you’re constantly going. No matter what man, animal and other part of nature have thrown at you, you still move with the current, on your way to the goal at the end — the big river of humanity. It can be hard to do, very hard.
At times, I feel like that part of the water that gets caught behind a big rock or log. I move one way and then another and I’m still stuck, just bubbling at one spot. Then I run or spend time with my family. Something pops in my head, and I’m able to move downstream.
What has you stuck? Is it the fear of the unknown or the fear or the known?
Whatever it is, you will find a way to move along. The creek (life) has a way of helping you find a way. Just keep trying, don’t give up.
As far as integrity goes, it’s part of being able to move upstream. Stay like the creek intends you to be, and you’ll move. Try something stupid — like I have a million times it seems — and you get stuck. Be who you are and you’ll go where you want, be whatever you want. If you hide or try to disown your abilities, you’ll get trapped.
I’m not saying running is freedom, but for me there are times when it feels like it is.

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