I went for a run this week, and it was a good one. One where you keep a fast pace, and you run strong with your shoulders spread. You feel like if anything got in your way, you’d just plow over it. You could be on a jailbreak or some sort of battle. You’re determined. You’re powerful. There are often times when you feel like really going for it on a run that you wear out, because you’ve overexerted yourself. In the beginning you feel like this will be the start of a strict, inspired running regiment, and by the end of the run, you wonder if you will ever run again. But, this run was as good as advertised. I felt ruthless, I felt like a man.
This run was inspired by my weekend viewing of Captain America 2: the Winter Soldier. Though not a comic book aficionado, I am a big fan of superhero action movies, to the point that I give a lot of free passes to these movies from my normal film snobbery. I’d say this one is better than your average superhero movie, especially considering it’s a sequel, but if you really want to hear me talk about the movie, go to my letterboxd account and read about it. Captain America on screen is a great mix of a regular person and super strength. When superheroes are flying, shooting metal claws out of their hands, or swinging on self-formed webs, it’s cool, but I’m not fiending to go out and do that tomorrow, because I can’t realistically envision myself doing that tomorrow. But, when you see Captain America do these things within the confines of the human body (online stronger and faster) it makes you want to strive for that too.
So, I got out and ran, and I ran hard. There’s nothing like the feeling on a warm day of covering ground quickly. The way your legs begin to think for themselves and seem to do the running for you. The rhythm of your breathing that becomes a cadence pushing your body on how fast it should go. There’s something very animal about the act of running. For me, whenever I turn a corner, there’s something inside me that wants to turn on extra speed and really take off. It’s like I’m loosening the control and just letting my body go. Like when you take the bridle off the horse and it listens to that voice inside itself.
This week, I began working early mornings at the radio station. This requires a 4:15am wake-up. When I walk to work, there are a few cars out, but it feels pretty deserted in Murray. It’s an interesting time to be awake. The robins are beginning to wake up, and they have a lot to say to each other. They congregate on sign posts and branches overhead and make noises you won’t hear in the warmer hours of daylight. This is a lifestyle change—if you wake up 3 hours earlier than normal, it’s a good idea to go to bed 3 hours earlier as well. My body is getting back to something much more natural to humans, syncing more with the rising and setting of the sun, rather than 9-5 workdays and primetime television.
Since I’m getting off work so much earlier, I’ve had large stretches of daylight to do whatever I want. On Friday, I met my mom in Springville, Tennessee to help her and other family members clean up my great-grandparent’s house. They passed away nearly 20 years ago, but the house my great-grandfather built himself is still standing. I was there with my mom, grandmother, 2 great uncles, and one great aunt. There was a lot of manual labor going on, but I also got to listen to stories that were brought out from looking through the house. I learned what life was like in this rural community from the 1940s on up to today. I also got to see the manifestation of the same blood in my body. All these people who share so much biology with me along with so many stories.
When I got home, I read through a book I have on our family history with stories and pictures of my great-grand parents and those who came after them. I see these handful of pictures of them, my great-grandfather, George Hurt and great-grandmother Ruby Hurt, both born in the first decade of the 1900s. I’m curious what they must have been like then, I only really knew them in their 80s and 90s. What would I see if I could go back and watch them as young adults? What would I see of myself?
It is a wonder what pictures and moving pictures and stories can do to push you towards something. You see them and sure they are cool and interesting, even exciting. But it is seeing something of yourself in them that really makes compelling. I know that sounds selfish, but I think as we get older, we start to understand how we aren’t so different, or maybe we just understand that regardless of our differences there are always at least some important similarities. Seeing them in someone else, makes us want them to come out more in ourselves sometimes. I don’t even know if there’s some logic in it. There is certainly value in these instincts. It’s good to exercise—it can be powerful to know your history. But, I don’t think that thing deep down inside us calling out to us to pursue so vigorously gives the costs and benefits much thoughts. It is a hunger, and a hunger only knows that it must be fed.