This email could have gone in a million different directions.
Usually, throughout the week, I mull over what’s happening, the general vibe that I’m picking up from other runners and walkers in groups I’m a member of. Then, I start to formulate and focus my ideas for an email.
But this week, there’s been so much going on. My brain has been scattered. Busy at work, busy at home, busy with Earth Runs. As a friend of mine who works in computers said, “you’ve got too many windows open”. And that’s what it feels like.
I have a son who’s dyslexic. Brilliantly so. Dyslexia doesn’t just affect your ability to read and spell. It is a totally different way of thinking. Dyslexics often can’t hold their focus, their brains whirring away in a million directions—incredible ideas, often with a neurological pathway that could fill an atlas five times over.
We’ve learnt never to give my son more than three things to do as it’s like watching a bumper car bouncing off the walls; his mind is firing off in all different directions. Over the years, he’s grown a resilience and an understanding of his dyslexia. We laugh with him now as we find the cereal in the fridge, or as he brings hay into the kitchen to feed his guinea pig who’s outside. When it happens, we just say that ‘chaos is a friend of mine.’
Yet, you put our boy onto a football field, a rugby pitch, give him a tennis racket, or a scooter, and suddenly that chaos is calmed. It’s like watching a dolphin jump or a buzzard glide. It’s what he’s meant to do. His brain and body become one. His movements don’t need thinking about; it is the most natural thing in the world. Thoughts and motion entwined.
Now I can’t even begin to compare my running style to the grace he holds in his physical activities. I can’t imagine a time when my minds-eye-view of myself effortlessly running matches that with the actual view I see when I run past a shop window. A slightly too upright, awkward-looking middle-aged woman looking a million miles away from ‘effortless’ reflected back at me. But I do understand that the physical effort does something incredible to my mind.
It begins to happen after those first rubbish ten minutes. And there are no two ways around it; those first ten minutes are often rubbish. I researched and discovered it’s your aerobic and anaerobic respiration working out what your body needs. Your body recognises that this isn’t a fight or flight situation, but instead, it’s what you’re going to be doing for a while, and so it settles into it, starts to burn energy from the right source and finds its rhythm. Whatever that rhythm looks like to you.
It’s then, during the rhythm, that the magic happens for me. It’s not a quietening of the mind. It’s time for the mind. With no other interruptions. No phones going, no children needing me, nothing else more important right now than for me to be right here, right now.
My mind wanders. And it wonders.
Of course, there are times when it berates me or my pace, there are moments when I panic and realise I’ve forgotten to do something, there are thoughts that are both good and bad. But no matter what those thoughts, they are like a flowing stream; they come and go. Being on a run allows that to happen. Some thoughts will float on by, others will stick. It almost doesn’t matter. It’s actually the time given to let the thoughts happen without needing to act, without being able to react. That’s what matters. That’s what calms my mind and closes a few of those windows.
Thoughts and motion entwined. Not graceful, but effective.
I’ve had a million ideas on past runs. Some good, some bad, some stick (hello Earth Runs!), others float by. What I do know is that it’s this precious time when my body and mind come together that actually propels me to keep getting up, keep getting out there, because, without that time, chaos would be a friend of mine too.
I hope your week has fewer windows open. I hope the miles let your mind flow too.
All the best,
Founder / Upright-but-not-uptight plodder / Friend of chaos
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