By John Tenniel – http://www.themorgan.org/collections/collections.asp?id=570, Public Domain, Link
Occasionally, my body will disappear,
Disassociate, doing whatever it does,
Allowing me to sit back and smile
Like a Cheshire cat
Submitting to the reality
That none of this matters and we are
Living one bad trip too regulated by practicality,
Purpose, and those pernicious peculiarities of
Responsibility, restitution, and our regular rigors.
This morning was such a morning.
My nod was getting interesting, for some reason
I dreamt of interviewing my uncle at an over-hyped music festival,
I assumed Coachella, although Bonnaroo or that WXPN thing
Could have been the place.
I was there, dark lights, smoke filling the air, entangled dancers,
I know he once loved Cheech and Chong, but he’s an old head, now,
Full of numbers, settled into a golfing life, cool, nonetheless,
But now I was awake,
Needing to head to the Y, catch up with the crew, make some decisions,
Short run, medium run, long run,
Eff the run and go get coffee…
I was still thinking about the dream
When Clapton came on the radio,
His version of The Core reaching into my soul
And tickling whatever nerves made me move
Out of the truck and into a growing body of people
Who were like bees on a hive, buzzing about, with a runner’s frenetic pace
Trying to figure to their distances, directions, mapping apps, while I
Eased into the idea that I was going to give the finger to the marathon gods
And run as much as I wanted to run,
Damn the taper, I’ll finish and I’m not worried about how long it takes
Because it’s not like I’m going to burn up the streets of Pittsburgh.
Besides, it probably doesn’t smell like mayo there, so I should be okay.
We took off, a pack of middle-aged running wolves, howling at the rising sun,
Barking at the unusual amount of early morning traffic,
And bantering the stories of our aches, pains, successes, and hopes
Up until the point
When the paths diverged,
One group heading to the park, a trio, trudging up the pavement,
For an alright run.
My dream was an after-thought, focusing on relaxing, breathing, and
Listening to my running partners took over.
We talked of being adults, the things our kids learn too soon, their sports,
And the backward relationship of work to happiness,
All the while keeping our senses alert to the unusual,
Like foxes fornicating in front of bicyclists on the edge of town,
Or the way Elvis Costello and Diana Krall can get into your head,
Questioning where all of the deer and rabbits were during winter,
And why, on this morning, was I still flirting with the idea
Of meeting my uncle at some festival
To get an interview where he would never answer any of my questions.
Perhaps it was the deep breathing exercises, the cold showers, or
The contact memory highs, but I began to lose it,
The time was distorted, the conversation blurry, my mood light,
I heard yum-yums about steroids, medicinal chemicals, and reverence for whiskey,
There was full-blown neighborhood excitement over apple pies and brownies,
The sort of Welcome Wagon packages Alexa or Siri should send our ways,
But I was too far gone at this point,
Lost in my visions of performance, a rough trip while I stretched,
Deeper emotions about UPenn and my brother,
And finally, a rush of calm, as I gave in and accepted
That I haven’t been training for this marathon alone,
I’ve had lots of support, gotten great advice, and will be successful
Because of both.
This group, so diverse, so committed, with a few whackos,
We know who we are,
Encourages the outer edges of thought,
The finer points of perspective,
The absolute joy when distractions take over
Allowing the mind and soul to go somewhere other than work.
That’s the best part of my day, the part
Where life’s realities allow the cosmic pretend actuality of nothing to come alive.
I got to work,
Unable to process it all,
A hot to a cold shower, the steam to calm, the cold to shock,
Wasn’t enough to process this morning,
The pseudo hallucinations, the leftover dreams,
The scream of foxes in heat too much to be real.
Even my trusty graph paper couldn’t organize these thoughts.
Maybe things are too big to understand,
I’m in for more of this, anytime,
But I also want clarity,
Perhaps it is not to be and all we really know
Is that the chaos of a morning run,
All the madness that it brings,
Is to be enjoyed,
The disassociated moments there to push ecstatic feelings,
Our Cheshire smiles extended from ear to ear…