The trouble these days is things aren’t always as they appear. The hamburger in the commercial never looks that big in real life, the car price doesn’t really start at $14,000 and that free magazine comes with a subscription you pay for if you forget to cancel!
Recently, my cat Echo, after 10 glorious years of being an indoor cat, content and cozy living within the safety provided by the four walls of our home, has decided this beacon of security is now a prison of maximum security. Every time the sliding door to the back deck opens she darts with the ferocity of an inmate escaping from Alcatraz. Once out on the deck she hides behind the patio set, staring at me, taunting me with her big alien eyes when I attempt in vain to coax her back in.
This is where Temptations come in. Temptations are a cat treat featured on a popular commercial where, when the bag is shaken a cat jumps over a fence, through a yard, over floatation devices in a swimming pool, back to the owner. The commercial is the Real Deal. Seriously. Echo can be on a mission to be the next best escape artist since Houdini and I can shake a bag of Temptations and she will come bounding in before I can blink. I don’t know what they put in that stuff, probably some type of highly addictive narcotic, but it certainly works. I may unwittingly be Echo’s feline drug pusher and not even know it.
For me, another Real Deal is the long run. My favourite training run is the speed workout, I tolerate hills and don’t mind tempo, however, the most sacred run of all is the weekend long run. I love it in the summer and fall when you can trade the confines of city streets, the relative safety of residential neighbourhoods and the monotonous repetitive routes for stunning rural scenery beyond the circumference of the city limits.
If the sun shines and the fields glimmer, my mind zones in and something very miraculous happens, usually about 20km into the run. For some reason it becomes a spiritual experience. Unless you have experienced it, I don’t think you can truly grasp it. I feel like I am floating. The movement of my body stills my mind. I become purely in the moment; everything else disappears except the beauty around me. All the cares and worries of my life evaporate. I feel as though I am gliding, smooth and fluid with the beating of my heart.
I said that’s how I feel, not how I look. I am experiencing all this bliss on the inside only. For someone watching, it would look like a stuggling, middle-aged woman shuffling along, slumped over enough to make the Hunchback of Notre Dame look like the exemplary poster child for the Canadian Chiropractic Association. I am gasping air like I have advanced emphysema and am moving barely faster than most people walk. However, none of that matters to me because I am not looking in. I am looking outward.
It occurred to me that this is true well beyond the scope of running. When we stop looking inward and instead look outward at all the amazing beauty and goodness that surrounds us, quieting our minds and moving to the rhythm of the earth, we become real; the Real Deal.