There are times,
Times when chaos is allowed,
Times when the rat race
Must be dispatched
If for no other reason
Than to claim back who we are
At our most basic levels.

We are meant to survive,
To hunt,
To problem solve,
To live.
We are not supposed
To settle,
To accept,
To slowly wither away.

A friend routinely puts my mind
Out of balance,
Reminding me that I am alive
Unless I’m just passing the time
With a television or
Sleeping away the minutes
To combat the daily fatigue
Sapping the energy from my soul.

A few days ago, he challenged my manhood,
Which seems to be the thing my friends do
In their simple way of suggesting
I’m not so tough,
But that’s probably more of my interpretation
Than their intention.
Either way it works to put me with a select herd
Of sheeple who go and get it,
Whatever it is that keeps us in touch with our primitive DNA.

His challenge seemed modest,
Run on a track for eight hours, starting at 10pm, ending at 6am.
Now that is a pox challenge compared to some that are out there,
Yet a few minutes into the run,
I knew there were problems ahead.
Chaffing, sore feet, restrictive hip flexors,
A minimal amount of training, all that negative stuff
A mind conjures to prevent a soul from following through.

This would not be the case
For I was all in and there was no way
That I was going to give up on the run, stupidly competitive…
I ran as long as I could and was struggling to walk at the end,
But when a challenge is accepted,
When a test is before us,
Truth is, finishing is the only option.
Others may be faster, but as long as the end is found,
WTF, it’s all good.

12:30 brought the first meal.
2:00 the first shirt change.
3:00 my watch died and I had to go old school clicker
4:00 I thought the stadium lights were balloons hanging in the dark sky.
5:00 Anger.
5:30 Desperation
6:00 One big middle finger to my doubt.
6:30 The great salt flat at the Y went alpine as the curb was hard to climb.

After the run,
I felt a letdown for missing my goal by three miles,
Twelve freaking laps, self identifying as a pox for that.
Soon, though, I was drinking coffee with my friends,
Sort of paying attention to the conversation,
Mostly wondering what had just happened.
I’m from the year of the horse, so
Trying to make sense of things,
Caught up in romanticism,
And tinkering with meaning is what I do.

But meaning of what,
The chaos of life had been stripped away,
My brain had been rebooted,
Gone where pressures of report cards,
The anxiety of homework assignments,
The scribbles and stains of daily living.
I could not think,
Maybe I was too tired, too hungry, or too cold.
Coffee and a shower did not help.

Neither did sleep,
For after two naps, I woke to the same blissful confusion,
Friends congratulated me on the miles,
Yet, I had a hard time feeling much,
Not because I did not appreciate their well wishes,
Quite the contrary, I accepted their notes sincerely,
I was lost, kind of in a fitness shock therapy that
Left my mentals scanning for a new meaning.

YouTube brought the clarity
In the form of a video about three adventurers
Who climbed Mt. Whitney.
Robbie, the guy I identified with, expressed a bit of remorse
At the end of the climb,
Suggesting that the summit had not lived up to the hype.
It seems, he was let down by the end of the experience.
I understood.

Now what, what comes next?
Monday work will return,
The routine,
The boredom,
The restrictive walls of academia,
Schedules, and the prison like agenda schools follow,
That challenge, one I’m finding harder to accept,
And as it was suggested in another YouTube life clarifier,
Quitting is an option,
If the thing needing to be gotten rid of isn’t doing it.

Eight hours is a long time,
But it can pass by so quickly.
Those sprinting minutes have the ability to teach a lot of stuff,
More so than a year’s worth of stodgy lectures.
Last night, this morning, whatever it was,
In winter’s grip, dressed in shorts and goofy compression socks
I found an old switch and hit it with gusto,
That power was furthered by the tinder of friendships,
Kindness, support, the shit too often lost
In the get-a-head world.

So running at night
Has some benefits in its insanity,
Though bleak, frustratingly slow, and physically a bitch,
I’m smiling inside and out,
Not for the miles or accomplishment, but
For the lessons,
For the return to living,
For the experience.
I’m longing for more shocks, less same ole, and
Stuff that lets me test my mettle.


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